Did you know that 85% of all customers look for negative reviews first? This is mainly to make an informed purchase decision. Further, 94% of customers say that they might avoid a business solely based on unsatisfactory feedbacks. These are often the first interaction an individual can have with your brand. You might end up losing a significant portion of your potential buyers every time something defamatory against you pops up on Google. It is, therefore, necessary to manage your online reputation well. ORM is a function of customer service, public relations and marketing combined which comes with major benefits like better business perception and increased visibility.
Online reviews are the ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing of the 21st century. Proper reviews ensure a ‘better-than-average’ customer experience. Or else, you have to bear the brunt of damaged company reputation and hindered sales for years. This is especially nightmarish if you have a millennial customer base. Studies found that 91% of people belonging to the age group of 18-34 trust online reviews as much as personal suggestions. The good news is that there are ample ways to handle negative reviews in a way that does not impact your business.
1) The Legal Way
Information is protected by copyright or trademarks through federal registration. Know that the publisher, and not the platform on which the review is posted, is the responsible party before picking one of the several legal grounds on which you can make a case of content removal. But the platforms have the right to remove offensive content regardless of the writer’s approval. All hosting services like Google Plus or Yelp have rules to regulate what they are posting. So, you must address the complaint and specify how the post might tarnish the name of your brand.
For example, the content could be racist, discriminatory, hateful, bullying or harassing. These are mandatory to be subject to removal. But make sure to gather supporting documents and facts. Get a lawyer involved who can combine business experience and legal expertise to offer the most practical solution.
2) Respond Quickly
You are only human, and mistakes and flaws are natural. But not addressing reviews means the company is not ready to take accountability for its actions. So, try to express your humility by sincere apologies and explanations. It’s best to not retaliate. Keep a mindset that ‘customer is always right even when they are not.’ This can limit the damage caused. Online readers willknow that you do not shy away from taking responsibility. It is a good way to show that customers matter to you, and you are trying your best to improve. This reflects the brand culture of ‘humanity’ and can reduce the chances of losing business.
3) Consider a Follow Up Mail
Keep a tool in place that notifies you every time a review is posted. Now contact your unhappy customer, use their first name and ask why they were dissatisfied with the product to make them feel heard. Try not to pressurize or threaten them to change the feedback or remove it. This is a wrong approach and might turn an unpleasant experience into a bigger headache. Instead, collect insight into the episode and work to resolve their issues. Try to offer free shipping, coupon codes or a basic discount the next time. It can change their mind in a positive way and stay loyal to your brand without switching to competitors.
4) Push Positive Reviews
One negative review can be overpowered with a few4–5-star rating reviews. Instead, pick your old buyers and dish out swags or gift cards in exchange for impressive testimonials. They are more likely to leave a 5-star post which can save your business profit from getting derailed. Further, you can also do the same with the negative post publisher. Solve their issues and ask them politely if they can reconsider their review. This might offer the best possible customer experience and help deliver a consistent level of excellence.
Online brand safety and management along with a positive reputation is a significant driver of revenue and growth. It also helps meet customer needs and helps them set expectations from your business. You are less likely to feel ‘unfairly targeted’ and stay honest and open with your audience base.