93% of consumers say online reviews impact their purchasing decisions. New customers who see praises online about your business are likely to book an appointment or buy a product, which is great. However, negative online reviews can actually damage your business: As little as three negative reviews are enough to turn away 59% of consumers.
It may seem like you have zero control over bad online reviews, because they often turn up unexpectedly, but that’s not necessarily true. There are things you can do in order to prevent them! Here are 5 proven ways to prevent negative online reviews:
1. Listen to Your Customers
Don’t wait for online reviews to find out what your customers think about your business. You need to always be in the know when it comes to customer satisfaction. This is why it’s vital to proactively seek customer feedback, even if some of it is negative. The first and foremost reason is that only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers will complain. 96% of unhappy customers who are non-complainers simply leave and never come back to your business.
Others go and vent on social media, review sites or Google My Business. When you give your customers an outlet to express the issues they may have, this is likely to prevent them from taking their frustration online. Plus, you get valuable feedback that will help you fix existing issues in your business, before they impact another customer.
There are many ways to get feedback. If you feel customers will be open with you, you can ask them for feedback in person. Another way is creating anonymous questionnaires, which can be filled out in person or online. You can even offer a small reward to customers who take the time to give you feedback. Make sure to ask questions both about the good and the bad in your business and demonstrate willingness to hear your customers’ sincere thoughts.
2. Deal with The Issue Before It Goes Online
Don’t just ask your customers for general feedback. Instead, make a habit of checking if they’re happy every time they leave your business or make a purchase.
If an issue comes up, try and solve it before your client goes out the door. First, listen and be empathetic. Something that can seem trivial to you may mean a great deal to your customer. So try and see it from their perspective, even if you feel you (or your employee) did nothing wrong. This way, your customers will feel heard and seen, which is often what unsatisfied customers need to know. This will go a long way in preventing negative online reviews.
Never raise your voice and never speak disrespectfully to a dissatisfied customer, even if the customer is doing so. Almost 75% of consumers who post negative reviews do so to save others from a similar experience. So if you listen patiently and promise to mend the issue, you’ll likely resolve the situation before it ever gets online.
3. Boost Your Customer Experience
Customer experience is how customers perceive your business and how they feel about it. This is created over time, as customers interact with your employees, your products and your business as a whole.
When a client’s overall customer experience is a positive one, it can drown out a one-off negative incident in their mind. If they’re feeling satisfied with your business, they’re more likely to see a bad experience as something that isn’t deliberate. This will make them react less strongly to it and probably refrain from writing a negative review.
Here are two easy ways to create a good customer experience:
- Online Booking: The customer experience starts long before a client sets foot in your business. For some types of businesses, such as chiropractic clinics, dentists, salons, veterinarian clinics etc., booking an appointment is an important part of the customer experience, and booking by phone can easily turn into a frustrating one. By adopting online booking, you will make it possible for clients to book anywhere and anytime, which would improve their overall customer experience from the get go.
- Personalization: Every customer likes to be remembered and get that personal touch. In fact, 81% of consumers want businesses to get to know them better, while 92% are influenced by personalized shopping recommendations. Think about a client who gets a Happy Birthday email from you, with a custom coupon for their favorite service or product. They would feel much more loyal and connected to your business. If afterwards they have a negative experience with your business, they would likely talk to you about it instead of going online.
4. Provide Customer Service Training
As a business owner, you’re relying not only on yourself, but also on your staff. And while you may know how to provide great customer service, your staff might not be as skilled at this as you. Customers can forgive and forget a one-off mistake, but they will remember a rude service provider and avoid that person in the future — as well as the business where they work.
So, in order to prevent negative reviews, you need to train your staff not only how to provide services or sell products, but also how to handle customers. Make sure your employees know not to take any negative feedback personally. Train them how to respond professionally and calmly even in a tense situation. You can even have your employees do role play simulations of difficult situations with disgruntled customers.
5. Increase Your Positive Online Reviews
One of the best countermeasures for negative online reviews are, surprisingly or not, positive ones. Your positive reviews won’t prevent the negative ones, but they will dilute them and create an overall positive impression among potential customers.
On average, consumers read about 10 online reviews. So if the majority of your reviews are good, users are likely to either ignore the bad ones or not even see them. This is the accumulative positive effect you should be looking for:
To gather enough positive reviews, you can encourage happy customers to write a review. This can be done in person or by adding a line in your emails or texts linking to your Facebook page or Google My Business.