It is a horrible feeling, your Google alert hits your inbox and there it is, the dreaded one-star review from a client. Like it or not, reviews are here and not going anywhere anytime soon. Ignore them at your peril. But since you cannot do much about them, why not use them to your advantage.
First, let’s get this out of the way. If it is a legitimate and reasonable bad review, do what you can to make it right. Sometimes things go south. Sometimes we all make mistakes. Own them and move on.
But in every case, as a business owner you must reply. Reviews pack a huge punch with consumers, and we all look at them to assist us in our purchasing decisions and we look for the replies as well when deciding.
Obviously we cannot (usually) offer an immediate replacement experience like a bar can offer a free drink, so your three alternatives are to:
- Take it offline. This is ideal when a client is unreasonable. “It rained on Wednesday and that was our anniversary and I want a refund.” In your public reply ask for their contact information so you can address their issue. No one wins if it is played out in comments. Connect with them and try to reason with them. And understand that not all people are reasonable, and they may go back and slam you again. Don’t lose sleep over that, it will eventually roll off; but don’t sell them again.
- Offer some sort of accommodation. This is your choice for a reasonably valid poor review. “They did not tell me the COVID requirements of my destination, so we scrambled in the airport for a test before flying out.” Reasonable. You are a professional and you should have had that covered. Apologize, and offer to reimburse for the test, if there was a cost. Match their reasonable issue with a reasonable solution.
- Rebut politely. This is for the client who exaggerates. “OMG the people in that Paris hotel did not speak English and then it rained on Thursday and there was smog and the entire vacation that I saved for twenty years was ruined.” Online or offline you are not going to appease this one. The best solution is a calm, and measured response that when traveling to a foreign country, you need to expect that they will be speaking a foreign language. The rain and pollution are really out of our control. But I notice that despite the rain and smog and language, you did remain for the entire trip, and never mentioned your dissatisfaction with the hotel or to our special concierge number that was provided to you. Politely put them in their place
In any event, your response must be public for others to see and (and I bet you didn’t consider this) for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your travel practice. The almighty Google sees all. A public reply will alert the reviewer that you replied, it will publicly show others that you cared enough to reply, and it will assist with your online reputation and positioning.
None of us buys from a one-star company or listen to a one-star podcast, right? Hopefully, you have other reviews that are more favorable, so you are not sitting in one-star hell. And as other prospective clients are looking, they are going to see the majority are positive and that you indeed cared enough to address the negative. And, if you have the time, a polite “thank you” for a positive review is a wonderful thing. It shows that you are actively managing your reputation, both the good and the bad!
And before we end, let me leave you with these two statistics:
- According to a study from Power Reviews, around 99.9% of consumers say they read reviews when shopping online.
- According to the same study, 98% of consumers think that an online review is an essential resource for making any kind of purchasing decision.
As I said, ignore them at your peril!