How To Avoid Bad Reviews
by Jo Shaer, on September 22, 2011
This graphic from 540seo.com, reflects the results of several studies of the US market which determined that 87% of consumers say that positive online reviews reinforced their decision to purchase a product which had already been recommended to them and 80% confirmed that a negative review could make them change their mind about a decision to purchase.
These reviews can be made direct to the Google Places Page of the business, on their website, their Facebook page, on Twitter with a hashtag or in a variety of local listing directories like FreeIndex, Qype and Yelp. Several of the latter have apps on mobile phones, specifically so that customers can review whilst still at the venue, so it's vital to bear that in mind.
So what can a business owner do to avoid bad reviews? It's an issue which needs to be addressed because it's not just about customer relationship management. Even the best-run and most customer-friendly establishment can find itself on the receiving end of a concerted campaign to destroy their reputation and credibility - as Google Places expert Mike Blumenthal's jewellery client found out.
One of the best ways of Getting Online Customer Reviews is to follow up with customers immediately after the sale to make sure that everything is ok and, if your relationship permits, ask the customer for a review as a personal favour after explaining how crucial these can be for your business success.
But, by the same token, it should also be made easy to complain. Staff should try to ascertain the nature of the problem without being defensive. However, despite the advice in the graphic, I'm not sure I would go so far as to have a 'complaint form' on site as this tends to suggest that there is 'need' for one because it is a regular occurrence. Far better to have a form on the 'contact us' page and ask for feedback and questions from customers.
If a complaint or negative comment is made - either through the contact form or online - it is important to respond immediately to try to resolve the complaint. My experience with the customer services department of Aviva on Twitter was a great example of how to turn a disgruntled customer into a fervent supporter.
I think point number 7 on the graphic is also very important - communicate with your local competitors as being on good terms with them will decrease your chances of getting a negative spam review. It's not going to make it impossible because we have to accept that there are some people in the world who are not ethical and will do whatever it takes to get to the top of the pile, treading on anyone in their way without compunction. But it makes for a far happier community if you can be on friendly terms with other businesses in the area offering the same service, especially if you are engaged in regular networking activity.
It combines with the instruction not to post fake reviews. There is nothing more guaranteed to upset competitors than obviously false positive recommendations and other black hat tactics. If the gloves come off, then who knows what type of counter attack might be made in response.
Playing nicely and maintaining good business practice is the key element of all these tips. And 'do as you would be done by' is always the best rule of thumb when it comes to avoiding bad or negative reviews.