There are so many review sites these days, it’s hard to keep up. But a bad review can be hard to manage, especially when you’re new. Shifts in technology trends can change many things for a company, and our client Donna learned that lesson the hard way. Not replying to bad reviews is one of the common small business marketing problems.
Donna owns a small retail shop that had recently opened in Manhattan. She was growing well and was off to a good start. But while I love New York, it isn’t out of the question to say that New Yorkers can be blunt and harsh critics. Donna had one difficult client interaction, which turned into several months worth of headaches. The client left unsatisfied and left a scathing 1-star review on Google. Initially, Donna wrote it off and went on with her day. Unfortunately for Donna that was the wrong thing to do.
A recent study showed that a bad review on Google My Business can hurt you much more than one on Yelp or Facebook. The study showed that the impact of a poor Google rating had twice the effect of a bad review on Yelp. It had nearly 4 times the negative effect than Facebook. Ouch, right? We can only speculate as to why, but it's likely that review ratings are part of the local search algorithm. Therefore, businesses with a lower review rating may be shown less. It's also easier to leave a Google review so that could be a factor as well.
No matter how big or small your business is, someone should be checking and responding to customer reviews regularly. You might be thinking, “of course, doesn’t everyone?” But, it’s easy to think that when you are not pulled away by a thousand different things. Plus if it was a negative review, the interaction probably wouldn’t be pleasant for you, either. It would be hard not to get emotionally invested in it. The first step is to try to depersonalize the situation. It’s hard, but that separation is necessary. Otherwise, you can’t follow this golden rule: the first one who acts irrationally will lose. Acknowledge that you heard them. Focus on the facts. Be professional. Never lose your cool.
Since Donna didn’t act on the review, it stuck. She started to see her local search numbers fall and her organic traffic took a nosedive. How could one review do that? It was her 1st review. Donna needed to fix this quickly. We started a program offering discounts for a Google review. We were clear that we wanted their honest feedback. It was solely a means of encouraging them to act. And most importantly: it worked. Within 2 weeks, we had 20 reviews. It took a month or so to recover fully. But recover Donna did, and her bad review problem went away. We also encouraged her to hire a social media manager to monitor her comments and act on any comments within 24 hours.
Remember, when it comes to reviews quality is always better than quantity. Even a poor review can be an asset if it is managed properly.
With how much business is done online nowadays, it is easy to see how a bad review can sink a business. But by keeping on top of it and staying smart, you can avoid problems like Donna’s. And importantly, we are happy to help you do that, because it is important to maintain the health of your online reputation, and we can help.
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Brian Cairns, CEO of Prostrategix Consulting. Over 25 years of business experience as a corporate executive, entrepreneur, and small business owner. For more information, please visit my LinkenIn profile
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