We all have experienced the exhilaration of a great review. We have also had to deal with that person who decides to take their anger out on our company. As we take care of live plant material, we have the added issue of addressing bad reviews for products the client killed.
If you take a passive approach, this can not only be frustrating but also destructive to your reputation.
To take control and act proactively, your team can do the following things:
- Flag inappropriate reviews.
- Neutralize and respond.
- Preemptively get positive reviews.
Flag inappropriate reviews
Google, Yelp and many of the other review platforms have guidelines on what is and is not an appropriate review. Former employees or competitors, for example, can be flagged as inappropriate reviews.
There are different guidelines for each platform. Read them carefully and see if you can flag any negative reviews. Be prepared to provide any documentation that proves you appropriately flagged a given review.
Your flagged review will then be reviewed by someone to determine if flagging the review is appropriate. If it goes your way, the review is gone. If it does not go your way, we move on to the next step — “neutralize and respond.”
Neutralize and respond
This step can be challenging, as it is often frustrating to have to respond to these negative reviews. The key is to understand that your audience is not the person who wrote the review. Your audience is the people reading the review and your response.
People looking at reviews know that there are unreasonable people out there. What they are looking for is how your company responds.
If your company legitimately had an issue, it is better to own up and apologize without making an excuse. It is better to talk about how you are going to resolve or address the given issue or problem going forward.
If you receive a vague or incomplete review (a low star rating with no actual review, for instance), it is best to say something like, “We are sorry you had a bad experience. Please reach out to us and we will try to address this when we understand what went wrong for you.” This type of response makes it clear that you would be willing to try and help if you understand what the problem is.
If you receive a bad review, it is important to keep things neutral, not engage the reviewer and, in a professional way, address the issues outlined in the review. Your company must make a judgement call. If it is clear the person writing the review violated common sense in some way and you can respond in a neutral way that just states the facts, it can really negate the effects of a negative review.
For example, a woman wrote a negative review because she hit a pallet of soil “right in the middle of the parking lot.”
The company’s response went like this: “We are sorry you hit that pallet of soil. We made extensive efforts to avoid this happening. We put this pallet of soil in the back of our lot. We marked this section in large yellow lines. We also wrote ‘No Driving or Parking’ in big yellow letters in front of this area. Obviously, this was not enough to prevent this from happening. We are going to look at this situation and see how we can do a better job in the future.”
If your company cannot respond in a neutral or factual way that does not antagonize the reviewer, it is best to move these reviews into the third category — “Angry and abusive reviews.”
Angry and abusive reviews
But if you happen to receive an angry and abusive review, you should consider this a gift. The more over-the-top, the better.
When you write a response, the most important thing is to neutralize the reviewer and not induce them to go on an angry campaign against your company. You want to respond in a way that lets people know that your company cares without engaging the reviewer. If there were legitimate issues, it is important to address them and let your audience know you are addressing these issues. Otherwise, a very short and neutral answer is best, something like, “We are sorry you had a bad experience with us. We hope you will give us a chance to do better in the future.”
Your audience will know there is not much you can say or do in a situation like this. Your goal is to show people who read this that you are a responsible and responsive company.
We all are excited when we get positive reviews. Unfortunately, many of us forget to write a response, even if it is a simple “Thank you for your review.” Showing your potential clients that you are thankful and gracious is just as important.
It is also important to build in positive reviews into your company culture. If someone is happy with their experience, do not be shy about letting them know that your company would really appreciate their positive feedback.
Sometimes we are not monitoring reviews, or we are taking over for someone who did not do so. These unanswered reviews can go back for years. If possible, it is good to go back and respond to these dated reviews.
This is not an emergency, but something that should be done over time while keeping up with current reviews. In fact, this can sometimes cause reviewers who have had a change of heart revise their review when their experience with your company has changed.
If you spend some time focusing on your reviews, you can experience better results and improve your reputation in the marketplace.
Digital Growth from the January 2023 issue of Digger magazine | Download PDF