In today’s world, your company’s online reputation can be your strongest asset or a pesky liability. One of the most common ways that consumers learn about a company is by reading reviews from past customers. Reviews and testimonials give prospective customers first-hand details of how your brand operates.
In fact, studies have found that online reviews have a huge impact on purchasing decisions. Around 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations while 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make it easier to trust a business.
So, what do you do if your online reputation has been tarnished with bad Google reviews? Here are four tactics that will help your company to outgrow bad ratings.
1. Respond Instead of Ignoring
After going online and seeing negative Google reviews about your business, it’s hard to not want to recant and tell your side of the story. While it’s a human instinct to want to defend ourselves and those things most important to us, one of the worst things you can do in reaction to a negative review is to pick fight with customers.
Instead of starting a war of words, which only further ruins your business’ online reputation, respond professionally. Refuting a customer’s review will only shed a further negative light on your company. But, by at least taking the time to acknowledge both negative and positive reviews, it shows customers that you’re engaged and willing to accept that your business has room for improvement.
Responding to negative responses also shows that you do care about how customers feel and that your brand is approachable. A personal brand is a successful one.
2. Accept Criticism as Being Constructive
No one likes to hear bad things about their business. Companies are a labor of love and after putting so much time, effort, and energy into your business, it can be hurtful to see negative words. While bad reviews are a hard pill to swallow, instead of reacting negatively or ignoring them, take the high road and turn them into constructive criticism. When responding to customers, let them know of the changes you’ve made to mitigate the problem. At the end of your response welcome them back for business with the promise of an improved experience.
By taking the time to acknowledge negative reviews, it shows customers that you’re being proactive in improving your business. This shows that not only do you care about how customers view your business, it also shows that you care about customer experience and that your brand is quite approachable.
3. Have a Plan to Offset Negative Reviews
The next step in understanding how to fix my online reputation is to create a plan for offsetting negative reviews. By having a plan to have customers write more positive reviews is very helpful in offsetting bad ratings. While good reviews don’t negate bad ones, they will improve your overall rating and will give consumers more reasons to view your company in a positive light.
Depending on your customer base, you may already have dozens of people who are willing to write positive truthful reviews of your business. All you really have to do is ask, but you’ll have to ask in the right way.
When you want customers to take time out of their day to write a review for your company:
- Send an email or post on social media
- Ensure the process is easy
- Offer a reward (ie. discount, free product, etc.)
- Create point-of-sale reminders
By enticing customers to write positive reviews of your business, you can minimize the impact of negative reviews.
4. Stay on Top of Reviews
Reading and responding to customers’ Google reviews should be a weekly task, if not a daily task, depending on how many reviews your company receives. Just as you communicate with customers via email and stay active on social media, responding to reviews is a huge part of customer interaction and brand management that you don’t want to overlook.
It is also fairly common that once you respond to a customer’s negative review and fix the problem, they go back and rewrite the review, giving you a favorite rating and kind words. By staying on top of reviews you can keep a close eye on which customers have updated their review and which ones you may still need to work with to get a more favorable rating.
Your company’s online reputation can make or break your success. While negative reviews can be a gut punch, turn them into something positive. By responding, fixing the situation, and making changes internal to your company, you can greatly minimize the number of negative reviews your business receives in the future.