The Internet has changed the way that people evaluate and shop for products and services. Today online reviews are a great source of information and studies have found that reviews are as valuable as a personal recommendation. Some business owners are up in arms because they feel that they have completely lost the ability to control their brand, but even negative reviews can add value when handled correctly.
Consider how Google has interwoven reviews into their navigation app, Google Maps. This application is a convenient and easy way to find a local business. Here is the real deal that has business owners up in arms. Google Maps and the search engines collect reviews about those local business owners. Those reports are likely to rank highly in search engines when potential customers research a company. Therefore, any reviews that pop up on Google Maps need to be dealt with promptly.
The fact is that every business should list their company on Google Maps and other review websites and services. It is important (and free) to make your presence known by claiming your listing on those important review sites. The potential risk is that anyone can review your work publicly on these types of websites. It is important to remember that some reviews will be positive, while others are negative. However, the good news is that you are visible to locals and you can quickly respond to both positive and negative reviews after you have claimed your listing.
Fake reviews happen all the time. It is usually best to take some time to think before responding to negative reviews on Google. The review might offer constructive criticism that is designed to help you improve your business. On the other hand, it is very plausible that someone with an ulterior motive, or potentially someone who never even conducted business with your company, wrote the review. Fake reviews are against Google’s terms of service. Therefore, you may have the right to report the fake review to Google and have it removed. Here are typical fake review signs:
- Reviews primarily advertising a competitor’s products
- Reviews that do not discuss the product or service
- Reviews which reference a questionable date range
The Right Way to Respond To Criticism
Take a deep breath before you respond to negative Google reviews. Don’t initiate a war of words with customers. In Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey asserts that effective people always “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Read their criticisms carefully and objectively consider any valid points, then respond to negative reviews. Identify their problem and try to build a positive relationship with the customer.
Don’t panic and take all criticism personally. Maintain a very professional attitude, even if you feel that the criticisms are unwarranted. Start all your responses in a friendly and positive manner. Thank the customer for leaving the feedback. Let them know that you are very responsive and will work diligently to solve the issues that they addressed in the review.
Let’s face facts; you cannot please everyone. Some customers are just too difficult to deal with on any level. However, this should not stop you, in your attempts to solve their issues with the company, product, or services. Work diligently to resolve the issue, and you may be pleasantly surprised that a dissatisfied customer can turn into a brand evangelist. Remain positive, and always try keep a long-term, optimistic perspective when you respond to negative Google reviews.