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Complaints happen. They just do. Usually when a customer is upset or has an issue, he or she will call the company directly and ask to speak with a representative to have the issue fixed. But in this age of technology, when it is so easy to hide behind a username, online reviews are becoming standard for launching complaints. Rather than taking to the phone, customers take to the keyboard.
And while it’s great to get a positive online review, it’s quite another thing to get a negative one. Negative reviews can (and do) influence customer shopping. However, if operators know how to combat negative online reviews, they can save the company lost time and revenue.
Respond to negative reviews in public
On Yelp, a business review site, nearly all businesses in an area are listed, even vending companies. That means that even though an operator didn’t sign up for Yelp, their company is listed and people can write reviews. The operators of those companies have the option of “claiming” their business on Yelp, which gives them the opportunity to respond to any reviewers. The best thing to do when getting a negative review, I believe, is to address the dissatisfaction in public. Not only does this let other viewers know that management is aware of the review, but it gives operators a chance to ‘correct’ the problem. Once an operator responds publicly to the review, ask the reviewer to contact the business privately and give a phone number or email address.
Fix the problem
A 2013 study found that 16 percent of restaurant reviews on Yelp were fraudulent. Now, I understand that some people are paid to write both positive and negative reviews. In 2012 Yelp took the initiative to detect false reviews—and companies have the ability to flag false reviews and get them removed—but it’s the real reviews you need to take action on. If a customer writes a review that “XYZ Vending Co.” didn’t service their location for two weeks, that’s a problem and it needs fixing. Companies need to use their best judgment to tell whether or not a review is fake or real. When a business does get a negative review, not only should the company publicly apologize, but they should go out of their way to ensure the problem is fixed.
Motivate your top customers to write positive reviews
Although most people feel inclined to write about their negative experiences, many people, if prompted, would be glad to write of a positive experience they’ve had with a company. Motivating your top customers to write positive reviews is easy and essentially free. If they like the work you’re doing, there will be no need to persuade them with free goodies. Simply hang a sign in the break room stating, “Like our service? We’d appreciate the feedback. Go to this link and tell others how you think we’re doing.”