This is a guest post by Stephanie Suesan Smith, an avid woodworking blogger who pays attention to advice I share. She recognized an email she received from Highland Woodworking as a real life example of the importance of reputation management for small businesses.
Stephanie knows from me that negative reviews can seriously affect sales. That was very easy to see in Yahoo! Stores because they provide graphs of sales and have had public reviews for a very long time. When a negative review was near the top, sales took a definite dip and stayed that way until positive reviews pushed them down.
Unfortunately for even good businesses, negative reviews put a damper on getting positive reviews so they stay on top much longer. This business was correct to be proactive even though they may experience some judgment from customers who do not understand how not taking action would affect their business.
BUSINESS REVIEWS: A Double-edged Sword
For a business, reviews are a double edged sword. Good reviews give people confidence in your business and make them feel more comfortable dealing with you. Bad reviews, however, can really hurt your business. This is especially true if most of what you do is mail order, where the customer places an order on your website or over the telephone and buys your product without holding it in their hand.
How do you handle bad reviews?
Well, there are a couple of different ways to do that. The ostrich approach is to hope they drop off the review page pretty quickly so they do not scare customers away. However, since most people do not review a business, that bad review can be on the front page of your Google Places for a long time with this approach.
“Negative feedback provides credibility and tells customers the business is confident enough to show a range of customer feedback. Nobody is perfect, and the same holds true for businesses. Honest feedback and suggestions for improvement can even improve your business (IF you are eager to fix the issue).” ~ Quote from Goodcopy for Good Marketing: Positive Side of Negative Reviews.
The best way to deal with this is the proactive approach. Do something to entice your satisfied clients to leave positive reviews so the negative review gets buried. A good example of this is the approach taken by Highland Woodworking when they got a negative review from a customer.
I recently received an email blast from Chris Bagby, the CEO of Highland Woodworking explaining how hard they worked to serve their customers. Bagby went on to say that every business occasionally has dissatisfied customers, despite their best efforts. One such customer had become abusive and had been turned away when it because apparent they could not satisfy him and he was putting their staff at risk. In retaliation, the individual had written bad reviews on Google Places and elsewhere.
Bagby gave a link to the complaint, which he had answered. He also gave a link to the page for reviewing his business and invited satisfied customers to review the business so others would have a more balanced view of it. When I checked, there were 36 pages of positive reviews that had been added the day the email blast went out. The bad review is buried on page 37 or 38.
While I have no way of judging the facts of the complaint, or the facts as given by Mr. Bagby, I have to admire the way he handled the problem.
Instead of the ostrich approach, which has caused so many businesses so many problems, Bagby faced things head on, explained his side of the problem, and asked his customers to help out.
This further engaged his customers and helped them feel connected to the business in a way they might not have felt otherwise.
Be proactive in your business. Connect with customers. If you receive a complaint, do your best to work it out. If that isn’t possible, make sure your customers know what you did to make things right. Doing the right thing isn’t just a moral imperative, it is good business.
Dealing with Negative Reviews:
- NEW: 7 Tips to Avoid Bad Reviews
- NEW: Getting Rid of Negative Reviews Before They Happen
- Lisa Barone ~ Outspoken Media: How Companies Should Deal with Negative Reviews
- Cars.com ~ Treat Negative Reviews as Opportunities“Acknowledge negative feedback publicly, but resolve the issues privately.”
- The n49 blop: Why Managing Your Online Reputation Matters