Almost all business owners understand that providing the very best customer service possible for their customers is essential to running a viable business. However it is almost impossible to run a business without occasionally having a dissatisfied customer. It used to be said that for every dissatisfied customer you had they would tell 15 other people.
Well the rules have changed. The internet now gives a dissatisfied voice a range of thousands with an almost endless time limit to express themselves. All anyone has to do is give a business a bad review on Google Places, or Yelp, or Facebook or one of the hundreds if not thousands of the directory sites, and that one incident can make your business look bad sending customers running from your business.
I recently was working with a client who had exactly this situation. A rare dissatisfied customer had posted a negative review on his Google Places Page. He knew of the situation so he knew it was real and not a competitor’s dirty trick. What most business owners do not realize is that it is virtually impossible to get a review removed unless you can prove to Google that some one else really is playing dirty pool. But this review was real and even though the account of events (as told by the customer) was not exactly in line with what my client told me.
As a business owner when you get a bad review your initial reaction is to want to set the record straight. But as we talked I was able to explain to my client that there is a better way to handle it. You see Google gives the business owner a rebuttal space right below the review. How you handle that rebuttal can mean the difference between getting more customers and not.
It might mean eating a drumstick of crow, but it is worth it to make sure the bad review does not do the damage the author had in mind.
What we did was to acknowledge that a bad situation did occur. In our case the complaint was about a late delivery. Even though the customer had actually given the wrong address over the phone, we did not say that. What we said was that we strive to make sure we get accurate information, but in this case something had gone wrong. We apologized to the customer for that.
Then we took the key step to correcting this situation. We offered a significant discount to the customer if they would come back in and give us another chance to prove our capabilities.
To my knowledge that customer never took my client up on his offer. But what we accomplished with this type of rebuttal was a chance to tell other potential clients these things about us.
- We care enough to answer the complaint.
- We are responsive to our customers.
- We take responsibility for our actions (even though anyone reading between the lines would recognize the customer had some culpability in the delay).
- If things go bad we try to make them right.
- We took the high road in our response.
That is one way to deal with a bad review, but here is another way.
Get your satisfied customers to go in and crowd out the bad review. For Google places just a couple of long winded reviews will push the bad review beneath the fold (off the page).
Finally another way to deal with them is to make it right with the customer. Do whatever it takes to get them to turn that bad review into a good one. But see actually that is the thing. You can’t go in and revise your reviews. Once they are there…they are there. What you can do is to go in and give an updated review. Once you have a satisfied customer that is what you want to ask them to do; to give a revised version of their experience with your company with a new review.
If you are going to be in business these days you really have to keep an eye on your internet reputation. You can’t turn a blind eye, because potential customers are looking for you and finding you. It does not take much to have them move on to your competition. How you deal with bad reviews can be killer important to your bottom line.