When It Comes to Your Online Reputation, Every Negative Review Is a Positive Opportunity

It goes without saying that social media has become an integral part of all of our lives. But beyond sharing our lives on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, more and more people are turning to sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List to look for recommendations before they spend their hard-earned money. As a result, the reviews left by your clients — both positive and negative — will have a major impact on whether a potential customer will choose whether to hire your company. But while on the surface negative reviews may seem like just that — negatives — that’s not always the case. In fact, they can actually be excellent opportunities for you to show your clients how much you value their opinions and how high customer service is on your company’s list of core values. By responding to these negative reviews the right way, you can actually turn detractors into advocates and show potential clients that your goal is to make every customer happy.

According to the social media consulting firm ThriveHive,

  • * 90 percent of consumers read online reviews
  • * 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews when considering a business
  • * 72 percent of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
  • * 86 percent of consumers will decide against buying from a business if they read negative reviews online
  • * A one-star increase on Yelp leads to a 5-9 percent increase in business revenue, and one negative review can cost a business 30 customers. (NOTE: A Yelp page will sometimes rank higher than a company’s actual site on a search engine results page.)

But in his book Hug Your Haters, author Jay Baer explains that while 80 percent of companies believe they deliver excellent customer service, only 8 percent of their customers actually agree — and the ones who don’t are increasingly taking to social media to express their displeasure. In fact, Baer actually says that in the age of social media, “customer service has become a spectator sport.”

Thankfully, however, his book gives his readers solid advice on how to deal with the negative reviews they receive in a way that turns those negative reviews into positives. First, he explains, it’s important to respond to every negative review you receive. In the minds of the people reading those reviews, replying to those unhappy clients shows that you care about providing excellent customer service, while simply ignoring them demonstrates the opposite. To support his claim, he cites the following statistics, which are pretty sobering:

  • * Responding to a complaint anywhere on social media gives your company an average 20 percent advocacy lift
  • * Failing to respond to a complaint on social media decreases customer advocacy by 43 percent
  • * When it comes to clients who post reviews on Yelp (the go-to place for unhappy customers), responding to a negative review increases customer advocacy by 16 percent
  • * Not responding to a negative Yelp review results in a 37 percent drop in customer advocacy

But simply replying to a negative review isn’t enough —  according to Baer, your responses must be handled a certain way in order to turn a negative into a positive. Here are his guidelines:

  • * Stay positive
  • * Offer a solution
  • * Don’t discuss account-specific information in the comment thread — send the customer a private message
  • * Reply to the review in a personal way that shows empathy — not in a way that uses “company speak”
  • * Only reply twice. There are some folks — commonly referred to as “trolls” — who post negative reviews for the sole purpose of gaining attention. If, after your second reply, the person still wants to discuss the issue, write a post that says something to the effect of “I’d really like to try to resolve this issue — let’s take our conversation offline and work this out together. Please send me a private message.” If the person genuinely wants to work with you, they’ll reach out; if not, readers will realize the person was just looking for fight to pass the time.
  • * If you’re able to resolve the problem, if the customer doesn’t update their review, feel free to ask them to do so (But do not ask them to delete their original review.)

So how will you know when you receive negative reviews? Setting up a Google alert for your company and monitoring social media sites for comments is the most obvious way, but it can be time consuming. There are also companies that can help you monitor your online reputation for a fee, including WebiMax, Yext and ReviewTrackers. Each one offers a variety of products and services, so if you decide to go in this direction, it’s a good idea to discuss your individual needs and shop around to make sure you get the best value for your money. A membership in CBUSA can also help you manage your online reputation more effectively.  Members or our local builder groups gather monthly to share, collaborate and learn more about topics including how to use social media  review sites like Yelp to their advantage.

Social media isn’t going away anytime soon, and unfortunately, neither are negative reviews. But when handled quickly and appropriately, those one-star reviews can have a five-star effect on your business.

Are you an independent builder who would like to take advantage of all the benefits a CBUSA membership has to offer? If so, what are you waiting for? Contact us today!

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