Call it human nature, or call it what you will, but we've been critiquing one another since the dawn of time. Harried housewives hurry their husbands out of the home. Girls at high school dances eye one another - and then, as they are socially obligated to, claim that another's dress is stunning.
Now, the ability to post reviews on Google has provided customers with a way of sharing their experience with a particular product or establishment.
For some customers - strike that, many customers - these reviews are the first thing they check before purchasing a product, or booking a service. For businesses, these reviews give them some insight on which products and services their customers liked, and which require improvement.
Every once in a while your business may run into a negative Google review that would greatly affect how potential customers may see you. Sadly, it's true: a few negative reviews may be enough to make potential customers choose a competitor over you. These negative reviews, scathing as they may be, can't be removed unless they violate Google's guidelines. If they are, by all means submit a request to have these reviews taken down immediately!
But for those of the naysayers that adhere to the guidelines, it's best to handle them in the following ways:
Resist the urge to be defensive.
You may feel like your business is under fire because of the negative feedback, but those bad reviews should be taken like slaps on the wrist. IE: with the attention of making you learn something. Instead of making excuses for your staff or your products, stay levelheaded, and keep in mind that these customers have every right to share their experience. Would you appreciate it if a design label told you it wasn't their shirt that was too small, it was your body that was too big for it? Likely not.
Respond politely and professionally.
The way you respond to feedback speaks volumes about how you are willing to work on improving your product or service. Acknowledge your customer's views and show him or her how you can fix the problem. In your response, assure them that you'll do your best to make sure the problem won't happen again, and actually follow through with your assurance.
Get more positive reviews.
We know, we know - easier said than done. Still, in increasing the number of positive reviews, you can tip the balance in your favour. Why not encourage past, happy customers to post a Google review? Try to target those who've had a good experience with your business, or those who often do business with you. But don't be too forceful with this request: customers rarely like feeling manipulated into doing something.
Don't forget about the positive reviews.
Take the time to thank the people who have posted positive reviews on your site. It'll show them you appreciate positive feedback, and that you're not just solely working on rectifying the problems caused by the negative ones. Besides, a warm comment these days is the equivalent of an online hug - and one we're sure your customer will be happy to receive.
When all else fails, get professional help.
Let's hope this doesn't have to happen, but there are professionals you can contact to help you improve your online reputation. If your business has received too much criticism despite your best efforts, they'll provide you with ways to repair the damage done by negative feedback.
No-one likes being stung. That's a fact. Moreover, no-one likes getting involved in a war of words on the internet. Those businesses that can properly handle negative feedback, however, are mature in ways we'd all hope to be.
Show your customer that you care about their experiences, and that you're working on improving your products of services.
It might be enough to convince them to give you a second chance.