I’ve long said that one of our keys to success has been reviews. Particularly, Google reviews. I’ve made no secret that over the years I have solicited positive reviews from our customers, friends and anyone else who has good things to say about our company. Reviews are the first thing a prospective client sees when looking for someone to do business with. Reviews are our image, our reputation and the lifeblood of our online presence. We have been very fortunate over the years to maintain a stellar online reputation. I believe our great ratings are a combination of taking exceptional care of our customers and doing everything we can to resolve conflicts before they make it to a review. With that being said, bad things still happen. We’ve had situations where I believed that we did everything in our power to remedy a situation but could not come to a resolution with the customer. In my opinion, we were right and they were wrong. It simply wasn’t fair.
Recently, I was watching a documentary about a football team when a player told the coach that something wasn’t fair. The coach’s response was gold: “You’re right. It’s not fair. Life’s not fair. The fair is where you go to kiss a pig and give it a blue ribbon.” That’s hilarious and a classic piece of advice that I fully intend to use in the future.
Although it may not be fair, it still happens. When it happens it needs to be addressed. So what do you do when you receive a negative review?
Step 1: DO SOMETHING (within reason!)
The worst thing that you can do (aside from writing a belligerent response) is to do nothing. Negative reviews must have a response, preferably immediately. Leaving a negative review with no response gives the impression that you’re either asleep at the wheel or simply don’t care enough about your customers to spend 5 minutes to respond. Carve out some time, think through the situation and carefully put your thoughts onto paper (or your keyboard).
Remember, the way that you respond will be seen by hundreds (or thousands) of people for years to come. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and sling mud. It feels good to tell everyone how right you were and how crazy the customer is/was. Very simply, this cannot happen. Your response must be composed, complete and to the point.
Step 2: PERSONALLY CONTACT THE CUSTOMER
This one probably isn’t possible in every situation. I know that you can’t just pick up the phone and call or get in your car and drive to every person that leaves a negative review. Sometimes the differences in opinion are too great to get to a resolution. However, a face to face (or at least voice to voice) conversation may be what you need to have the review removed by your client or at least upgraded to 3 stars instead of 1. This is something that I wish I would have considered back when I got my last negative review 4 years ago. If I had it to do over, I would contact that customer, try to reason with them and as a last resort explain to them the impact of a negative review on our company and staff.
The future of our businesses depends on the number of opportunities that we receive via online searches. The negative reviews cause potential customers to pass your business and move on to the next available company. Not only my livelihood but the livelihood of my team members and their families depends on these opportunities. If it will help, I would encourage you to swallow your pride, pick up the phone, get in your car and see if you can come to a resolution.
Step 3: WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS…COVER IT UP.
If you’re unable to bring the situation to a resolution, and the review is there to stay, you need to do everything you can to cover it up. When I say cover it up I mean move it down the list. Get it off the first page and move it out of sight. How? Get more reviews! This is something that you need to do all the time but the need becomes magnified when you’re battling a poor review.
I’ve always focused on Google reviews because we’ve found that Google is where many of our new customers come from. As many of you know, to leave a google review you must have a Gmail account. Once a month I’ll go through our recent customers and see who has a Gmail account. If I know that we’ve wowed them, I personally reach out to them for a review. With rare exception they’re always willing to help. I never promise anything but many times they’ll receive a hand written thank you note and a gift card a few days later. Not only does it show your appreciation, but it builds your relationship with your customer.
At the end of the day we are constantly striving to improve our businesses, get more opportunities and close more deals. Positive reviews are instant credibility and a window into the way that you run your business. My final advice is this: Never let a negative review sit. You must take action promptly. Do everything you can to have the review edited or reviewed. If that doesn’t work, cover it up!
If you’ve done business with us and had a positive experience we would love to hear your story.
Please leave us a review here:
As always, I look forward to working with you soon.
Ben Baker, Owner
Lake Norman Screenprinting Factory