February 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 18
By Jim Augustus Armstrong
(Second of three parts)
“I remember this guy,” a dealer from Minnesota told me. I had just pointed out to him that he had a negative review on Google. “He was rude to my staff and made unreasonable demands. When we told him we couldn’t give him what he wanted he left this lousy review.”
Many dealers can relate to this situation. You pride yourself on providing great service, and you’ve built a strong reputation in your community through years of hard work. Then some yahoo gets his knickers in a twist and trashes you online. I’ve done online marketing assessments for a lot of dealers, and unfortunately this situation is not uncommon.
Fake reviews left by competitors or dishonest customers can also be a problem. It is not fair and can make you want to pull your hair out. But this is the world we live in. So rather than complain, let’s look at steps you can take to handle negative reviews, protect your online reputation and gain an advantage over competitors.
Fix the problem in your business. When someone leaves a negative review it’s easy to get angry and defensive, but what if the negative comment is legitimate? If so, this person has done you a favor. Here’s why: According to Lee Resource, for every customer complaint there are 26 other unhappy customers who have remained silent. In this case the reviewer has taken the time to point out a problem that is causing you to lose customers and money. The solution here is to swallow your pride and fix the problem in your business.
Use Disney’s proven customer service recovery strategy. The Walt Disney Co. hosts 135 million people per year and they are masters at customer service recovery. Their employees are trained using the acronym HEARD. This technique can be used in person as well as with online reviews.
- Hear. Let the customer tell the story without any interruptions.
- Empathize. Let the customers know you care deeply about their concerns.
- Apologize. Sometimes all someone wants is a sincere apology. Even if you didn’t do anything wrong, you can still apologize by saying things like, “I’m sorry you’re frustrated. I get it.”
- Resolve. Resolve the issue right away. For example, ask the customer, “What can I do to make this right?”
- Diagnose. Without blaming anyone, find out why the mistake occurred. Does your system need fixing? Was it human error? Take steps to make sure the mistake won’t happen again.
In addition, you should respond publicly to negative reviews. Resist the urge to blame the reviewer or make excuses. Instead, be empathetic, apologize and list the steps you have taken to correct the problem.
Lastly, learn to drown out negative reviews. There is no mechanism to remove authentic negative comments left by real customers from Google and the other major review sites. Note: If a review is fake or slanderous there are steps you can take with the review companies to have them removed, but it’s a hassle. I don’t recommend it. Instead, drown out negative reviews with positive ones. This is the single- most powerful strategy for building and maintaining a great online reputation.
If you have any questions, or if you’d like me to evaluate your online reputation, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim Armstrong specializes in providing turnkey marketing strategies for flooring retailers. For a free copy of his latest book, “How Floor Dealers Can Beat the Boxes Online,” visit BeatTheBoxesOnline.com.