One of the biggest advantages gained by online review management – especially if you are collecting new reviews on a near daily basis – is the real-time feedback you receive both on your business operations as well as your employee performance.
No business is immune to negative reviews, but how you respond to those reviews will go a long way toward showing your customers that you value their opinion and constructive feedback. Using negative reviews – or even middling reviews – as an opportunity to learn and improve your product and service is a good way to build a successful business.
If your business is making the effort to collect online reviews, you have a valuable tool at your fingertips that can help you gain a better understanding of how your business is operating in real time. That real-time feedback is essential to identifying problem areas and remediating them quickly before they become systemic.
Transparency has long been a buzzword in the business world. Businesses that truly aspire to be transparent value honest feedback from customers. This helps them identify which processes are working, which employees are succeeding, and gives businesses actionable insights that enable them to make educated business decisions rather than taking a shot in the dark.
Are you listening?
One key aspect of transparent online review management is responding to reviews – whether positive or negative. This will improve not only the overall perception of your business but could change a consumer’s intent to buy. According to a study by Bazaarvoice, consumers who saw a brand respond to a negative review were more than twice as likely to purchase than if the brand had not responded.
Responding to a negative review isn’t easy, but is worth it in the long run. It shows your customers that you care, are willing to adapt and change to meet customer needs, and shows that your business doesn’t just give lip service to the idiom, “The customer is always right.” Below is a four-step process to responding to negative reviews that we have found to be successful:
- Apologize – Admitting that you are wrong isn’t easy for anyone, but it is important to swallow your pride and acknowledge any wrongdoing.
- Respond calmly – Have someone who isn’t directly involved in the situation respond to the complaint. Let cooler heads prevail rather than letting emotion exacerbate the situation.
- Offer a proactive solution – Taking responsibility is only the first step to resolving customer concerns. You must also show that you’ve put some thought into the problem and offer a way that you can fix it.
- Take the conversation offline – Once you have apologized and offered a solution, provide the customer with a way to contact someone in the business, like a customer service manager, who can follow-up on the situation until it is resolved.
The bad news is that according to Consumer Reports surveys, 91 percent of customers won’t give you a second chance if the first experience they have with your business is bad. That’s why it is paramount to use the feedback given via online reviews to build a top-flight customer experience. This will help your business create advocates as opposed to detractors.
The value of customer feedback
As a business owner, if you’re not constantly changing and adapting, you will be left behind. Online reviews give your business a treasure trove of data that can be mined to improve your business. But you have to be willing to listen and adapt to that feedback.
Richard Branson, an entrepreneur and founder of the Virgin Group, put it this way in a recent blog post: “You can never have enough feedback and you can never stop learning.”
One famous instance of a company quickly adapting when faced with negative feedback from its customers is Coca-Cola. In the go-go ’80s, Coke was facing stiff competition from Pepsi, whose sweeter taste seemed to be the “choice of a new generation.”
Instead of doubling down on its tried and true formula that had been successful for decades, it developed a new, sweeter version to compete with Pepsi. Most people who have attended business school since then know this decision was an unmitigated disaster. Coke’s loyal fans rebelled.
But Coke quickly pivoted, releasing what today is called Coca-Cola Classic and eventually dumped the new formula altogether. Because Coke was willing to learn and grow from its mistake, it has been able to maintain its leadership position in the competitive beverage industry. The key takeaway is businesses shouldn’t be afraid to admit when they are wrong no matter how difficult it might be.
Customer feedback comes in many forms – online review management, customer satisfaction surveys, social media comments. But if you aren’t using that information to improve and grow your business, that feedback doesn’t have any value. The key is to make sure your customers know that you are listening to their feedback and using it to help shape your plans for the future.
Learn more about online review management
Getting your happiest customers to leave a review might seem difficult, but it’s easier than you might think. Download our new ebook, Cracking the Code: Why online reviews matter to your business, to learn how online reviews can improve local SEO, increase trust and loyalty with your customers, and ultimately boost your bottom line.
Key takeaways include:
– Which online review sites you should focus on and why
– How online reviews will improve your business operations & employee performance
– Why having a real-time view into your customer experience is important