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.

Everything You Need to Know About ORM for Schools

Recently, many schools have realized how important their Online Reputation is. Nowadays the pretty brochure or the neat website are not enough for parents when it comes to choosing the right school for their children. Keeping a clean reputation has become a fundamental priority for schools that want to rank well in search engines, get more students and keep the ones they already have.

Reputation Defender knows that this whole idea about keeping a positive reputation may sound simple, but in reality, schools often have a hard time with online reviews and social media posts. It is very important to pay attention to this issue since the internet is incredibly slow to forget. It does not matter if a school was involved with a drunk teacher scandal 10 years ago, probably parents are going to find this information anyway in Google.

Parents Googling for the worst

Most consumers are constantly Googling everything. If someone wants to know if a specific product is trustworthy, then it will Google it.

With schools and parents, it is the same thing. Parents act like picky consumers who fear for their children’s proper education and safety. They scrutinize everything about the prospective school– and when we say everything, it is EVERYTHING. They manage themselves to find long-forgotten information about it and base their decisions on this kind of old data.

If your school is not using any kind of SEO service, the chances of search engines showing negative information about it are definitely higher. Parents will easily find something dirty ranking higher than other positive reviews about your school. This happens because there are always a few bad stories that remain just because they were absorbed by years of 24-hour news feeds fed by incessantly curious and gossipy parents.

Misunderstandings, upset parents arguing with the principal and politically incorrect teachers, are on top of the subjects that most parents Google. Needless to say that most of these subjects probably were poorly treated by the press, and what could have been a simple situation between a student and its teacher, was sensationalized, twisted, exaggerated and manipulated in a way the media could get a shocking headline perfect for attracting more clicks from the already concerned parents.

Beware of Negative Reviews

The old bad press is only one of your concerns as a school trying to keep a clean Online Reputation. A matter that schools should as well keep in mind is online reviews.

There are a few websites where parents can find online reviews written by others, such as greatschools.org or schooldigger.com. On these websites, people can leave their reviews on the selected school platform. Positive reviews rank well on search engines and can help your school build a strong reputation. On the other hand, negative reviews will definitely destroy your school’s reputation in minutes if you don’t take care of them.

If a school wants to build a strong reputation, it should use an ORM services like Google Alerts that can help it detect when a bad review is posted. As most of the websites where people can rank schools have forums, schools can engage in an open dialog with upset parents and try to solve every single one of their complaints.

Let’s keep in mind that some forums allow users to leave anonymous comments. These comments also need to be taken care of by using an ORM advisor who can tell the school whether it is or not a good to delete a negative comment.

Image courtesy of jdog90 at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of jdog90 at Flickr.com

Students and Social Media

Another important issue to keep in mind in order for schools to have a positive Online Reputation are student posts in social media. This matter can be quite delicate since high school students can be rebel teenagers wanting to gain some popularity among their peers.

Students can create fake accounts and post mischievous content about your school, leading to gossip and misinformation. Fake twitter or Facebook accounts are a quite common tool for students to make fun of their school’s teachers or kitchen lady.

This is probably the riskiest item for schools’ ORM since they are dealing with teenagers and there is virtually nothing that can be done or said to solve this issue besides also using Social Media to minimize the negative impact of the students’ behavior.

What to do then?

Luckily for schools, there are many ORM vendors willing to study their situation and help them out with their reputation management. Some ideal solutions would be to launch multiple websites with highly positive content about the school, make sure all social media profiles are coherent, and get the school in the spotlight for something everyone can be proud of. In the end, good news can go viral and could be very beneficial for schools with reputation issues.