How to Turn Negative Reviews Into an Asset

The importance of customer generated publicity is growing all the time. According to a 2015 survey by BrightLocal, 92 percent of people use online reviews to learn more about a product or service, up from 88 percent only a year before. More and more people now base their buying decisions on comments from other customers, so it’s vital that businesses have numerous reviews left by genuine clients.

At Reputation Defender we work with companies to manage their reputation and create positive online content. There is nothing more valuable than testimony from a satisfied customer, but unfortunately not all reviews will be positive. Every business will face negative comments from a dissatisfied customer at some point, so it’s not a matter of if but when. Business leaders need to be ready with a plan in place to deal with negative publicity when it appears.

Stars are Important

Star rating is the number one factor that consumers use to judge a business, so a one or two star rating can really hurt a company that doesn’t have many reviews. On the other hand, it will be much less noticeable if there are already a high number of four or five star reviews. Surprisingly, a few unenthusiastic comments can actually help. Customers will tend to question the reliability of the reviews if each one has a solid five star rating.

Making Reviews Work for Your Company

Here are six steps to make reviews work for you company:

  1. Be proactive about customer service – Handling dissatisfied customers before they have a chance to leave a review is the most effective way of preventing negative comments. Online rants often come as a result of customers feeling ignored or overlooked, so if something occurs to disrupt normal service, or you know a customer is unhappy, make sure compensation is offered. A coupon, a discount on a future visit, or even a full refund can be worth it if it keeps the company’s reputation intact.
  2. Make it easy to leave a review – Generating a high volume of reviews is the best way to ensure a four or five star average. If you focus on excellent customer service, most people will have a positive experience and be happy to leave a testimonial, but they may not think about it unless you remind them. Send out review invitations by email, or on a receipt. Offer prizes or contests for people who leave comments. If you have regular customers, don’t be afraid to ask them directly.
  3. Set up an alert – Even with your best efforts, there will always be some negative reviews. Register for a Google Alert, so you will know right away when someone leaves a comment about your business, negative or positive. This will give you more time to read and respond to the comment before it has a chance to go viral.
  4. Respond appropriately –Mature responses show you can take constructive criticism and help to convince other readers that you’re not the one being unreasonable. Address the issue directly, apologize and explain what has been done to fix the problem. This makes readers feel you listen and are trying to improve. It’s also important to respond to positive reviews, so everyone leaving a comment knows they are appreciated.
  5. Take executive action when necessary – Responses that come from high-level management will always be more effective. Not every executive has time to respond to reviews regularly, but just a few comments a month will show feedback is taken seriously.
  6. Track your statistics – If you practice good customer service and encourage reviews, you should get four or five stars from approximately 85 percent of your customers. Many customers distrust reviews that are entirely positive, so don’t make this a goal. Welcome some negative comments, but respond appropriately and try to make sure a similar situation doesn’t occur again.

Social Network ORM: A substantial investment for your company

Social networks have become the perfect way to reach direct distribution to consumers. Today, the presence of brands in social networks is growing, and they are paying huge amounts of money in reputation management on such platforms. There are several reasons why brands are firmly committed to strengthening its presence in social networks. This presence has become almost a necessity, but why? Why do companies prefer social networks over other traditional media? Well, in first place, because users usually spend more time in social networks than listening to radio, reading newspapers/magazines or watching the news on TV. In second place, because they trust more on what they see in social networks (especially if the content is shared by their own contacts/friends), even if the shared links, pictures or videos are taken from traditional media websites. Actually, around an eighty-five percent of social network users consider influential the content they find on these platforms. You may get to such conclusion after analyzing enough the purchase options of consumers. When users see “likes” of their friends on Facebook, it calls their attention. If a company Facebook page have likes of their friends, there are more chances that users purchase what that company is offering online (seventy-one percent of possibilities, specifically). It is a completely revolutionary form of advertising, at low cost.

Managing and building the reputation of a brand is a hard work that requires undoubtedly special attention and constant activities. It is not a service provided once for ORM companies like Reputation Defender. Just like advertising and marketing in general, online reputation should be considered one more fixed expense (and one of the most important in a hyper-digital age like the one we live in). This work is not new. Nobody is inventing the wheel when it comes to managing online reputation of a company through social networks. There are thousands of tools available for brands that allow them to connect with users and consumers in order to establish more direct and personal ties. It may change the perception that they have about brands.

A proper building of online reputation on social networks is generally made through (1) gathering and analyzing all the possible amount of information related to their brands, promotions, products or services, and (2) by keeping track constantly and intervening directly with users about their comments: positive and especially negative. It is extremely important to ask users about their bad experiences and to study their feedback when they like your products and services.

When social networks are not used for directly selling products and services, they can work very well for modifying the opinion of users about your products, services and reputation. In fact, sales are not strongly related to the presence of companies in social networks. They are more effective for determining the way consumers perceive the company, and it does increase the possibility that the consumer will buy that brand later. The best use of social networks is not selling (there are other marketing methods for achieving that goal, even though it is possible to sell in such platforms). The great value of social networks is, on one hand, the access to a tremendous stream of information: what users consume, what they no longer want, the reasons behind their purchase options… and, obviously, what they think of a particular brand. In second hand, brands may increase the amount of followers in fan pages and every day they can provide information to users about their new products and services, about the history of the company, about social campaigns, about prices and funny memes that make users laugh and remember their brand. Also, there are groups on Facebook about restaurants, hotels, products or services to recommend or not recommend it to other users; and there you can find testimonials from users, who try to alert others about what has happened to them.

Image courtesy of Chris Potter at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of Chris Potter at Flickr.com

Building a reputation is a task that takes years. Today, it may be destroyed in a matter of days, and sometimes minutes through social networks. If your brand already has a bad reputation in social networks, it is necessary to develop an action procedure to manage the online crisis. It’s not the end of the world, and of course there are strategies that work very well and are being used permanently. What is a problem is when a company does not pay attention to his bad reputation on social networks and does nothing to remedy it. This can bring a negative impact on sales and can gradually lead to bankruptcy to any business, however large. Just remember the impact it has had bad publicity in companies like Coca-Cola or McDonald’s.

In future posts, this issue will be discussed further: How to improve your online reputation in social networks.