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Negative business reviews can be bad for business, and they can be difficult to navigate. According to a study that tracks consumer trends, more than 6 out of 10 consumers search Google for reviews. While avoiding bad reviews may seem impossible, there are practices that businesses can engage in to help prevent customers and clients from leaving negative feedback. Below is a list of a few ways to avoid bad online business reviews and how to deal with negative reviews online.

1. Talk to Every Customer About Their Experience

One of the best ways to gain an understanding of the consumer’s experience is to reach out to the consumer and ask for feedback. There are a few ways to do this:

  • Include a survey at the bottom of receipts.
  • Collect contact information and reach out.
  • Ask about the experience at checkout.
  • Talk to consumers at the storefront.

Not every customer will respond to these efforts, though it will increase the chances of the customer leaving satisfied compared to making no effort at all. Giving the customer an avenue to vent frustrations or issues with their experience can help mitigate the rate at which negative company reviews will appear.

2. Invest in Customer Service Training for Employees

As a consumer, both marketing tactics and customer service are important facets of the purchasing experience. Employees are typically the first in line to help generate a positive and memorable experience for customers, so properly educating them is paramount to creating a positive business image from a consumer perspective.

Try to leverage your employees’ skills within the sphere of customer service. Additionally, having an up-to-date customer service training program will help increase customer retention rates and profit from retention. Companies with higher customer retention and loyalty rates can work to translate this into business revenue. 

3. Be Your Own Customer

The best way to understand how a business operates and interacts with customers is to take a walk in the customer’s shoes. Try registering as a new user or purchasing a product or service from the business website or storefront. This will help owners and managers understand what the customer experience is really like; what is going right and what is going wrong. Call customer service and take notes regarding the experience. This can help business owners and managers implement changes to procedures and processes to facilitate an overall positive experience.

4. Make Your Contact Information Easily Accessible

If a business is difficult to contact it will increase the chances of customers searching for alternative ways to vent frustrations. Long waiting queues and automated/AI responses can also significantly decrease a customer’s perception of a good business. Make authoritative figures easily accessible to the consumer so that they feel their needs are met without having to jump through hoops. 

5. Respond to Issues Within a Timely Manner

Consumers will typically feel more satisfied if their concerns are addressed quickly. How much time is “within a timely matter” will differ by situation. As a general rule, these issues should be addressed as quickly as possible. If issues aren’t resolved promptly, the consumer may feel more inclined to leave a bad review.

6. Be Personable When Resolving Issues

Customers are more likely to continue consuming products and services from businesses that meet their personal needs. Some strategies to becoming more personable when working through consumer complaints are listed below:

  • Promptly respond, even if a solution isn’t immediately available.
  • Know the product thoroughly, including its intended uses.
  • Always personalize responses, making sure to address individual needs.
  • Explain solutions in multiple ways.
  • Do not blame the customer.
  • Use the customer’s name.
  • Be kind and polite.
  • Invite customers to ask more questions.
  • Go above and beyond to make sure issues are resolved.

7. Encourage Customers to Leave Honest Reviews

Research and review are two of the most readily available ways for consumers to find the right product, and honest reviews can encourage more consumers to purchase a product. Some customers are unaware that the ability to fill out surveys and internal reviews exist, so make sure that this information is easily visible and available.

Honest reviews should be encouraged, as they allow business owners to understand the image of their companies, and why their consumers may or may not be making referrals.

Fake and limited reviews may temporarily boost a site’s or product’s overall rating, but provide little-to-no value to a company. Try the following strategies to increase the volume of honest reviews:

  • Ask for reviews.
  • Incentivize reviews (coupons, prizes, points, etc…).
  • Explain why the review is important.
  • Use social media to engage and communicate with customers.
  • Use multiple review sites.
  • Make sure the process is fast and easy.
  • Use automated services to ask for reviews after purchase.

8. Don’t Ignore Negative Feedback

It is unlikely that a business will be able to get a five-star review from every customer. Negative reviews don’t mean a business is bad, and this type of feedback can be both harmful and helpful. It is important to digest and acknowledge negative feedback, as just ignoring a review typically won’t net a positive result. Responding professionally will allow other consumers reading the reviews to know that the business is engaged and honest. 

9. Remain Calm

Becoming upset and providing backlash to a review most likely won’t net a positive result, and typically does not resolve the problem. Some things to consider when contemplating the repercussions of a negative review are:

  • The consumer’s perspective is probably different than the owners.
  • Some issues can or should be handled offline.
  • Some reviews can or should be removed.
  • Negative reviews can be diluted.

10. Make Use of Social Media

By using social media to address issues, comments, or concerns, consumers can see in real-time the attention and care a business brings to solving problems. Furthermore, usage of the platforms allows companies to advocate and promote their brand by reaching out to a large audience.

11. Add a Comment Section to Your Website

Some people may feel intimidated by confrontation, especially through common social venues. Additional avenues for communication are generally seen as a good thing, especially if it facilitates user-to-user interaction. Adding a comment section to a company website has a few distinct advantages:

  • It allows the addition of testimonials.
  • It can return traffic to a website.
  • Businesses can filter the content.
  • It allows for direct interaction with consumers.
  • It advocates discussion.
  • It can generate fresh user content.

For example, if a company installs A/C units they may want to use a software solution to streamline the customer experience. This would allow the employees to manage schedules, make changes to invoices, and access customer information from job sites without sending the customer through additional avenues to get accurate information. Small changes to the way a business operates and handles its customers can make the difference between a good and bad review.

Customers expect to have a seamless experience. When they don’t, it can lead to them reviewing a company poorly. Try to regularly solicit customer feedback in order to help increase the efficiency of customer service, and ideally head negative reviews off before they start.