Updated: Dec 8, 2022
As I continue to bring you my thoughts on Customer Service, I’m afraid it’s time for a sticky subject. Yes, buckle up: it’s time to talk about Online Reviews. Good or bad, like it or not, online reviews are a reality you can’t afford to ignore.
Let me tell you a little story. A colleague I work with closely had a frustrating customer service experience with our internet service provider. (Shocking, right?! I mean in an industry known for its customer service standards . . . but I digress.) When he was unable to come to a satisfactory resolution, he eventually gave up his quest. And then he immediately went online for an opportunity to publicly share his experience. When he found no formal option to rate/review them online, can you guess what he did instead? He posted publicly in any way he could find – commented on one of their job postings and tagged them on his own Facebook page.
The moral of the story is you can’t hide from your online presence. And the harder you try, the more likely only the angriest and most upset customers will persevere.
And we can’t pretend your clients/potential clients are ignoring your online reviews, right? Most folks are going to a little online digging and maybe some crowd-sourcing before signing on the dotted line. And those online reviews—Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook, Google, The Knot, Wedding Wire--there’s no dearth of websites for a client to spread the word about their experience with you.
Here are a couple of things to consider when handling your online ratings and reviews:
Authenticity – if you’ve got lots of reviews out there and every single one of them is perfect, well, it can start to look suspicious. So don’t solicit or fabricate reviews from folks who haven’t actually experienced your service. Aside from the ethics (I hope I don’t have to go there), false reviews have a way of, surprise, surprise, not ringing true. Do encourage reviewers to write a brief version of their story to accompany their rating to help their authenticity shine through. And if you really do have genuinely perfect ratings, congratulations!
Response – How does the saying go? “You can’t always control what happens, but you can control your response.” Nothing could be truer in the case of online reviews.
Whether the review is positive or negative, your response turns the comment into a conversation, demonstrating your engagement and your commitment to your customers.
In most cases, you can’t censor a negative review (check the links below for the review policies of major platforms like Google, Yelp, and Facebook). But you can control your response and make your side of the story part of the narrative. The right response can put the review in a new light or even turn it around altogether. The wrong response can make things worse, and no response at all leaves someone else controlling your online image.
I know that negative reviews are sometimes false and always painful. As tempting as it may be, responding with an ad hominem attack never reflects well on you and your business. Instead, try a simple acknowledgement, noting that you are reviewing your internal records about the trip and promising a phone call to discuss.
Now I’m going to say the hardest thing to hear. Ready? Sometimes that negative review is justified. If you look down deep in your heart of hearts, you know I’m right. In those cases when there was a straight-up service failure, you need to respond with a sincere apology and publicly state what you are doing to make it right.
Responding to positive reviews demonstrates appreciation to your loyal clients and shows prospective clients that you are truly engaged and focused on service.
Getting it right can be tricky, so don’t be afraid to engage some expert advice or assistance. Experts like the LMC Group can monitor your online reviews, alerting you to new comments on multiple platforms and helping you craft an appropriate response or even responding on your behalf.
Responding to Bad Reviews on Google, Facebook, and Yelp
Vivial.net - The Big 3 for Reviews
You can reach Amy directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on Online Review Management and how The LMC Group can help.