As the holidays ramp up, many businesses will feel the hustle and bustle even more. And as more customers walk through your door or peruse your website, this old chestnut will ring even truer, and will definitely apply to your reputation management:

“You can please everyone sometimes, and you can please some people all the time, but you cannot please everybody all the time.”

While you aim to please and bring your A game to your business every day, unfortunately, unhappy customers are a fact of life. Whether it’s a bad experience, a mix-up, or something else, customers are more likely to leave negative feedback than positive. As you already know, one bad review can ruin your entire online reputation.

What are you to do if you get that one bad review during this busy time of year? Here are some steps you can take to do damage control and cultivate a stellar reputation all year.

Prioritize Customer Service

When it comes to bad reviews, as far as reputation management is concerned, the best course of action to take is prevention. Meaning, you need to make your customers’ experience priority number one at your business.

It’s common sense. As we noted in a previous blog, “if you want to encourage customers to leave a positive review, you need to deliver an experience that is worthy of a positive review.”

You already bring your A game to serve your customers. Make sure your customers know that by:

  • Making your business a pleasant place to visit
  • Make your website easy and intuitive to navigate
  • Communicating clearly with customers about goings-on, events, promotions, closures, and other vital information
  • Ensure everyone that’s a part of your business practices stellar customer service

Bringing us back to that bad review

You should make it a practice to respond to every review you receive. Google has said it’s changing its business model to reward customer engagement, so replying to reviews will become more critical than ever. We mean it. Not responding could affect your SEO on Google’s platform in the coming months.

First thing you need to do is remain calm. No matter how unfair the review may seem, or shocking, it’s up to you as the business owner to take the high road. Being criticized sucks, but writing a reactionary reply back can make it worse, and make you look like the jerk, not the customer.

Conversely, you don’t want to go the other way either by being overly apologetic. Never admit fault is something we say a lot for a reason. You can acknowledge the reviewer’s viewpoint by expressing you’re disappointed, but saying you’re sorry or apologizing can be seen as admitting fault, and that could have some bad consequences.

Responding well

Before writing anything, read the negative review carefully to ensure you understand what your dissatisfied customer’s specific concerns are. That way, you can write a personal response to address their concerns.

Then, you can really make lemonade out of lemons by using the bad review as an opportunity to show other customers how you make it right. Ask them, sincerely, how you can solve the problem and follow through. By responding in a restorative way, you can set the tone for future customers so those reading can know that you work hard to set things right for your customers because you truly value them.

If you can resolve the issue, you can also ask the negative reviewer to take their comment down. They’ll be more likely to do so after you’ve resolved their issue. Granted, this isn’t possible with every bad review, and it may seem needlessly time consuming. But by making an effort to resolve bad reviews, you’re setting a precedent with future customers that you go the extra mile for them.

Is taking care of a negative review one thing you wish was crossed off your holiday to-do list? If so, Smart Link Solutions can help! Give us a call at (240) 684-0500. We can tell you about all your options for stellar reputation management.