You put your heart and soul into making your business the best it can be. You’re really proud of the products, the services you offer, and the team you’ve assembled to make it all happen.
But at the end of the day, you’re only human. At some point, you’ll encounter someone who’s unhappy with their experience interacting with your business, and they’ll post a negative review online.
Your gut instinct might be to panic. But a bad review isn’t the end of the world. Actually, fielding bad reviews is just another part of the modern reputation management grind, and not too different than dealing with a customer complaint in person. In fact, if you’re smart about it, you can turn a bad review into an opportunity. Here’s why you shouldn’t sweat a bad review.
Perfection Is Suspicious
Everyone has a bad day. No person or business will be perfect 100% of the time. A negative review every once in a while is not only to be expected but should be welcomed.
When you go onto a business’s Yelp or Facebook page and all you see are five-star reviews, don’t you get a little suspicious? Sometimes it makes sense, but when you see a little bit of a mix, it adds to credibility and looks less like they’re gaming the system.
Maybe they’ve asked all their friends to leave nothing but praise. Maybe they’ve deleted anything that was less than raving. Either way, you get a distinct feeling you’re not getting the full story.
In a lot of cases, aiming for a page of inflated reviews is a reputation management misstep. Modern consumers know that some businesses try to game the system.
Reviews should help you grow trust in your business. The occasional complaint or piece of constructive criticism makes those reading the reviews feel they’re looking at a legitimate collection of opinions on a business, not just the cherry-picked perfect reviews.
One Bad Apple Doesn’t Spoil the Bunch
It’s easy to take a bad review personally and to let it feel like it’s the beginning of the end for your business. In reality, one (or even a couple) of bad reviews will not sink your business, as long as there are good reviews to balance it all out.
If your business is new, go out of your way to solicit positive feedback from customers you know have been happy. If you run a brick and mortar store and see a familiar, smiling face several days in a row, ask them if they’d be willing to say something kind online! Some might not think to do it on their own, but most people are happy to do so when asked.
If your business has been around for a while and already has a healthy number of positive reviews, then you’re in a good place. Of course, if your business starts getting a string of low reviews back-to-back, look into it to learn what’s causing the sudden downturn in public opinion. But again, this is not a reason to panic–think of it rather as an opportunity to learn about and address a new challenge.
As we all know, reputation management isn't just about maxing out the number of stars that show up next to your local listing. It's also about using feedback to deal with honest-to-goodness business challenges.
Bad Reviews Humanize Your Business
Part of the reason consumers like to patronize local businesses is that they’re looking for a real connection. There’s nothing like going into a store and being greeted by name by the salesperson, or receiving an email following up on your newest purchase with a postscript asking about your recent family vacation.
Imperfection is very human. Bad reviews are another opportunity to humanize your business. Not only do they make other readers understand that there are real people behind the brand, but they also forge a human connection with the person who wrote the less-than-glowing review.
What's more, readers often take the nature of the reviewer into account too. The reviewer could come off as too young, too old, too sophisticated, too unsophisticated, you name it, to be seen as a reliable source on your business. In other words, a reader might be able to come up with all sorts of reasons to think that they would have a different experience than the reviewer did.
In some cases, a hostile review even help out with your reputation management efforts by suggesting that your product or service isn't right for every consumer in the marketplace.
A Chance to Turn a Frown Upside-Down
The best part about a bad review is the opportunity to respond. I’ve written before about how to handle a negative review, but it bears repeating: The most important thing is to not ignore the review. It happened, and it’s there for the reviewer and everyone else to see, so there’s no point in pretending it doesn’t exist.
If you respond quickly, genuinely, and offer a solution to the problem, your action will a long way toward not only fixing the problem but also rebuilding that trust and goodwill. The reviewer will appreciate that you were proactive in addressing the problem and trying to fix it. Others who see the review and your response will understand that we’re all only human and will value your commitment to correcting your mistake.
A bad review can get a business owner down. But it really isn’t a reason for distress. In fact, a bad review every once in a while can be good for your business, if you meet it with the right reputation management strategy.
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