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Everything is marketing. Or at least it can be. Econsultancy gathered up stats from across the internet about the power of online reviews. Here are a few:
- Three out of four British shoppers (77 percent) consult online reviews before buying online
- 92 percent of consumers say they trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising
- 72 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
So, if online reviews are so powerful, what do you do when you get a bad review?
When life gives you lemons...
Every public complaint comes with a silver lining: the opportunity to publicly resolve it. Here's what to do with a bad review to get it working for you:
- Embrace the authenticity. First of all, don't expect to get 100 percent 5-star reviews. It's just not going to happen. A few unhappy customers is normal and actually adds authenticity to your reviews, proving they're not all posted by your mates.
- Respond quickly. Check the review sites you're listed on daily for new negative reviews and set up Google Alerts to email you when your business is mentioned somewhere online. Responsiveness aids resolution and indicates good customer service to everyone else.
- Sorry seems to be the hardest word. 'The first step to mitigating a negative review is publicly acknowledging you’ve made a mistake — even if you don’t feel that you have — and apologizing,' says Sprout Social. Potential customers will always identify with other customers, not your business, so don't try arguing or telling a different story.
- Just be human. 'People are not looking for perfection online,' says said Shama Kabani, author of The Zen of Social Media Marketing. 'What they’re really looking for is humanity and a genuine response, so a negative review can be a great opportunity to respond in a positive and transparent manner.' Don't be afraid to show a little of your softer side.
- Reviews are reversible. 'In most cases, if your customer is taking the time to give you negative feedback, it is because they believe the problem is something you can fix,' says Richard Thomas, Executive VP of Listen360. Offer to fix the problem, refund the cost or replace the item. If you can solve the crux of the bad review there's every chance the reviewer will change it, and if not, there's a record of your great customer service for everyone else to see. Just make sure it's something you can afford to repeat - other customers who experience the same problem (hopefully that's very few) will expect the same treatment.
- Know when it's time to quit. Craig Jooste, owner of the painting franchise 1-888-WOW-1DAY, encountered a blackmailer who demanded a free paint job. When Craig refused, she 'went crazy with bad reviews'. Eventually, he decided to acquiesce and do what she wanted, figuring it would cost him less time and money in the long run, and in exchange she removed the negative reviews. Sometimes you just have to swallow a bitter pill and do what's best for the business.
- Removal is the last resort. Review sites are there as a forum for public opinion, so no site will take down a review just because it's negative. If someone is being abusive, you can prove they have never been a customer or they are from a rival company, then it's worth reporting the comment and requesting the site remove it.
(Hat tip to BuzzFeed for the photo)