The first rule of the internet is: don’t read the comments section.
The second rule of the internet is: seriously. Do not read the comments section.
The third rule of the internet is: if you’re a small business owner, you do have to read the reviews. And reviews are a variation of comments. In fact, they’re an especially tricky kind of comment section that could have a major impact on your business. Think about it. Last time you Googled a business – any business – and one competitor has 4.8 stars and the other one has 3.9, which one are you going to? That’s a split-second customer decision that could have a tremendous impact on your business – for better or for worse.
However, if properly strategized and considered, appropriate management of your reviews can be a major asset for your business! Here are our tips and tricks for how to get good reviews, how to deal with bad reviews, and everything in-between.
Good Reviews: Setting Expectations
The world would be so easy if you could just release a good product and then good reviews magically happen. Now, this happens sometimes, but honestly it’s way more common for customers to post an unsolicited negative review than an unsolicited positive review. And this is entirely due to expectations.
Think of it this way: let’s say you buy a refrigerator. And that refrigerator makes things cold. How many people are you going to tell? Probably not many. Because that’s what refrigerators do. They make things cold.
Ok. Same scenario. But this time, you bought a refrigerator and it DOESN’T make things cold. Now how many people are you going to tell? (I ran this same question through my head and came up with the answer of: everyone I’ve ever met.)
In other words, a simple, general formula is as follows:
If the customer experience EXCEEDS customer expectations, your chances of a POSITIVE review go up.
If the customer experience FAILS TO MEET customer expectations, your chances of a NEGATIVE review go up.
- If the customer experience EXACTLY MEETS customer expectations, your chances of NO REVIEW go up.
So, in general, try to accomplish A+ customer service experiences on B+ expectations (ie - under promise and over deliver) and you’re probably in a good place. You can accomplish this in any number of ways: personalized care, add-ins to a product such as a hand-written note or brand sticker, face-to-face consultations, and more.
Good Reviews: How To Get Them
Even if you follow every syllable of advice above, you may not end up getting an additional volume of positive reviews. That’s because the strategy above will make your customers more receptive to a positive review. But that doesn’t mean they’ll take action on their own.
Instead, you may have to make a polite request! If you feel a strong rapport with one of your customers, there’s nothing that says you can’t end an email exchange by simply saying, hey, if you had a good experience, would you mind leaving a review? And leave your desired review links right in the email. (If you’re asking THEM to do something for YOU, don’t give them extra steps! Ask them to consider a review, drop in the links, and get out of there.)
Bad Reviews: How To Deal With Them
Even if you do everything above, there are bound to be some bad reviews.
Ok, now deep breath. Because here’s a secret. EVERYONE GETS BAD REVIEWS. Remember, unhappy people tend to be the most likely to leave reviews. Point is, at some point in the creative process, life will happen. Paint will smudge. USPS will forget/lose/misdeliver a package. A postal carrier will leave something out in the rain. Or, maybe a given customer just doesn’t like what showed up at their door. And that’s their opinion and that’s ok. It feels terrible but it is impossible to please everyone!
So what to do when this happens? Here’s what:
STEP AWAY FROM THE KEYBOARD. You will likely feel some sense of personal hurt here. After all, this isn’t just your business – it’s your livelihood, and perhaps even that thing that puts food on your family’s table. Commenters don’t realize that they aren’t just letting off steam – they could actually be hurting your family. This will make you feel threatened, most likely. So we suggest some time away (up to 24-48 hours) to process and cool down.
Respond. Yes, that’s right. Respond. In the future, the most transparent brands will win. And besides, humans often find vulnerability endearing. Responding to a negative comment with an apology and an offer to make things right (a coupon, a discount code, free shipping on their next order, etc.) could go a long way in minimizing the damage. Will the negative customer take you up on your offer? Who knows. But we do know that that review stays up for a looooooooong time. And customers that see your kind, compassionate response 3 years later will do a lot more heavy lifting than a non-response, which threatens to make you look absent at best.
- Offer additional opportunities for feedback. In addition to offering a winback incentive, such as a coupon code, you may be able to disarm upset customers by treating them with respect and asking for legitimate feedback. “I’m so sorry you had this experience. I stand by making things right, so I’d love to discuss what went wrong here. Please let me know where your expectations weren’t met to see if we can find any resolution.” You’d be surprised how quickly kindness and collaboration can defuse even the angriest of customers.
If you exceed customer expectations, ask for reviews from customers with whom you have a strong rapport, and keep lines of communication open with negative reviews, you’ll be managing your review strategy as well as anyone out there.
We know that this isn’t the most fun part of running your business. But navigated correctly, this could be an enormous boost to your presence while also creating an easy path for those researching a vendor like you.
So that’s it! And if you enjoyed this blog or any others, we would love for you to consider leaving a review ;)