We know that the vast majority of buyers check online for others’ experiences before they complete a purchase, and that even one negative review can have lasting impact. While only 6% of customers write a review, it turns out that a dissatisfied person will tell their tale to 10 more people than a satisfied one. So, it’s possible that your online reputation is being unevenly impacted by just a few negative reviews, unless you have a solid plan for how to identify and respond to problems raised in reviews. 

Comcast, the telecommunications and internet giant, provides a cautionary tale about what happens when you don’t have a plan. Comcast gained the unfortunate reputation of hating their customers after reviews simmered online describing how Comcast customer service reps changed the names of customers they didn’t like to insults. Without any mechanism internally to identify, escalate, or resolve these reviews, the problem spread, stories eventually made it into the press, and the notion that Comcast is one of the worst companies in America became permanently woven into their corporate brand. This could have been avoided with an internal process that would immediately escalate the reviews rather than allowing them to get swept under the rug.

An authentic foundation

The goal of gaining and responding to reviews must be grounded in the basic philosophy of engaging with customers to ensure satisfaction. With this objective, you will not only encourage the positive responses and reap the promotional rewards, you can identify and remedy any concerns with your existing customers. Maybe this will result in a positive review, but more importantly, it will result in a positive experience for your customer.

Nipping negative reviews in the bud

Negative reviews don’t have to be launched into the public domain unfettered, nor should they ever be allowed to fester unaddressed. Avoiding this requires some infrastructure and clear planning.

1. Make it easy for customers to reach you

As part of carefully planning and managing your review process, your customers should have ample opportunity to contact your customer support team directly. When you are soliciting reviews, be sure to include a direct link to customer service and encourage the customers to contact you directly. Ideally, you will learn of and resolve any issues before a review is even posted.

2. Monitor common review sites 

Your internal system must include a method for monitoring the online reviews that are generated at independent sites. Both positive and negative reviews should be responded to immediately, and the negative ones must be elevated internally.

3. Have a clear plan within your company to address any issues revealed 

If your customer reaches out to you directly, you have an internal mechanism to address the issue and the potential negative impact is resolved before the situation becomes public. 

However, when a negative review is posted–especially if you are finding out about the issue for the first time along with the rest of the world–your prompt and thorough response is essential to ensuring that you can turn the situation around. This process should be established and ready to go, not ad hoc in the moment, and should include a pre-determined series of steps and employees who will take the lead. For some tips on how to respond to negative reviews, please view our ebook 8 Response Templates for Negative Reviews.

4. Provide the opportunity to revise a negative review

Once an issue has been resolved, the customer should be given opportunity to resubmit their review using the same “make it easy” steps outlined in the second post in this Reviews series.

The simple act of identifying a lead person to monitor and respond to online reviews could prevent a Comcast scenario where bad reviews snowball from random comments into a set reputation, but most negative customer experiences involve multiple departments, such as customer service and accounting, or quality control and sales. Having a mechanism that tags the involved parties up front can ensure that no issue falls through the cracks until it’s too late. Most importantly, the customers’ concerns are remedied and internal processes are improved.

A great partner can help

Finding the right partner to manage a robust reviews system that solicits, monitors, and responds to reviews can help you maximize and strengthen your connection to your customers while also avoiding situations like Comcast suffered, without over-taxing your internal resources.

A turnkey solution like the one offered by SATISFYD Reviews will complete the set up and development work for you to maximize open and response rates, and we help establish and drive the internal processes to respond to your reviews while you keep your focus on running your business.