Negative feedback and low star ratings on review platforms like Google, Facebook and Yelp can feel like gut punches for local business owners. However, constructive responses to bad reviews present opportunities for improving customer sentiment while building credibility.
This comprehensive guide from Local Marketing Inc covers why your online reputation matters, strategies for professionally addressing critical reviews and proven methods to get more positive endorsements driving sales.
How Much Does Your Business Profile Really Matter?
Your online presence across channels now serves as the digital first impression for many potential new customers evaluating options. A few bad reviews with low ratings can significantly hurt discoverability, trust and conversion rates if left unaddressed.
Review Impact on Buying Decisions
According to surveys, over 93% of consumers read online reviews before visiting unfamiliar small businesses. And 78% report that positive reviews directly influence buying choices.
Conversely, repeated one and two star feedback mentioning quality or service issues create doubts. 67% state poor ratings make them less likely to select those businesses.
The Risks of Ignoring Bad Reviews
Customers understand mistakes happen occasionally. But brands that ignore or fail responding to negative commentary and ratings over weeks signal they just don’t care.
This drives even more damaging word-of-mouth plus future missed opportunities still searching for satisfactory solutions to their problems after you failed addressing issues.
Why Do I Need to Handle Bad Reviews?
Competent handling bad reviews presents opportunities for improving long-term through accountability, communication and making amends when appropriate.
Mitigate Further Damage
Quick, thoughtful responses to critical reviews reassure the disappointed customer while showing audiences you responsibly address problems should they arise.
Look beyond the venting tone within bad reviews. Identify core failure points around service, quality, pricing confusion etc and take corrective actions to improve operations.
Transparency around acknowledging legitimate complaints and discussing resolution demonstrates management commitment towards standing behind standards.
Best Practices for Handling Negative Reviews
Applying proven response strategies turns adversities into advantage for presenting your business positively while keeping customers happy long-term through enhanced policies.
Being among the first to comment back builds goodwill fast after disappointing incidents. Customers feel heard when issues get prompt attention from owners or management addressing problems head-on.
Keep it Professional
Never get defensive against fair critical reviews. Avoid arguments defending staff or faulting all blame back on customers themselves as that simply inflames problems.
Demonstrate fair accountability around reasonable complaints customers raise rather than outright denials. If staff improperly handled a certain situation, own shortcomings.
Highlight Policy Improvements
Detail any new policies put in place to prevent repeat future occurrences of issues called out. Customers dislike feeling like one-off victims without systems learning lessons applied.
Attempt to Make Amends
Depending on situations, extend goodwill offers attempting to give complaining yet reasonable customers a second chance. Free services, discounts off future purchases and small gift cards help mitigate frustrations.
How to Get Good Reviews
The most effective way to counteract periodic inevitable bad reviews involves actively encouraging satisfied happy existing customers to post positive experiences that drown those out.
Ask at Checkout Counters
Have staff politely ask customers at points-of-sale if they’d consider leaving an online review about their purchase experience. This staff-initiated ask converts many appreciative patrons on the spot.
Follow Up via Email
Send out email or SMS text review requests to recent customers. Tailor messaging around milestones like first purchase, member signups or after utilizing promotionals.
Spotlight Uplifting Stories
Share and showcase especially positive five star stories praising staff, quality or inspiring brand experiences. This indirectly nudges others to follow suit with the glowing sentiment.
Consider running occasional contest giveaways or discounts off next purchases as added incentives driving customers towards publishing reviews after recent visits.
Want help addressing negative sentiment or promoting more five-star endorsements? Reach out to Local Marketing Inc’s online reputation experts for building review volume and credibility today!