One important thing to remember about review management is to be prepared for cruel comments:
“Worst service ever!”
“Are they aware that OUR business KEEPS them in business?”
“Does ANYONE at that shop answer the phone?”
“How can someone claim ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’ when none is offered?”
There is a wide-open opportunity for any person to say negative things using online media without the likelihood of censorship interfering with their opinion of an experience with any company, regardless of the truth. YouTube videos attract a lot of attention, as do blogs, tweets, Facebook comments, and online reviews, and if they show a bad experience with your company, the public generally accepts the review of your small business.
Small business owners should handle those negative reviews as quickly as possible. Apply damage control by using these five steps of review management.
Step 1 Compose Yourself
Attacking someone’s business is similar to attacking family, so it is important for the person attempting review management to take a deep breath and review the comment before responding. Anger on your part or a flippant reply merely endorses the customer’s observation and it is impossible to recall an unprofessional response after it is given.
Step 2 Research the Complaint
Composing yourself lets you look at the adverse comment and reserve judgment until you have it sorted out. Good review management principles include making a response that you are researching the situation and will be back in contact by a certain date. That lets others know you are aware of the situation while you look over all statements and information from the customer and match them with company records. Investigate the problem thoroughly and confirm your company is the one involved, as names are easy to confuse. Highlight comments and have copies of shipping and billing information, as well as a copy of the order form and invoice to determine if the company is at fault.
Step 3 When a Small Business makes a Mistake
When the customer is right and something went astray with your small business, bend over backwards to make it right. A customer is a benefit, not a nuisance.
• Politely apologize, avoiding excuses. Managing reviews means explaining the situation, not excusing it.
• Outline what you discovered during your research.
• List how you expect business and customers to be treated.
• Explain that you appreciate their business and want them to remain a customer.
• Ask them to contact you if they have further problems. Provide your email address and telephone extension.
• Depending on the amount of the order, offer a free-of-charge replacement, partial refund, or give them a voucher to use on their next order.
Step 4 When the Mistake is Outside Your Control
Even if your business has no part in a customer problem, it is important to close the review successfully. Review management provides the opportunity to present your business in a positive way to blog followers and those who follow reviews.
• Thank the customer for bringing the situation to your attention and that their satisfaction is important to you and your employees.
• Let the customer know what you found out. Avoid being condescending or judgmental.
• Provide a contact name and email address so the customer can work with customer support. Give a credit to use for the next order. The goal is to have a satisfactory resolution with an update about the situation on the comment.
Step 5 Continue Excellent Review Management
Consumers frequently check online to read reviews about the small businesses they are considering doing business with. Be diligent in review management and resolve problems when you find them.