Does ‘The Shed’ or the name ‘Oobah Butler’ ring a bell? Let us refresh your memory – Oobah Butler is a journalist who asked his friends and family to write reviews about his non-existing restaurant, The Shed, on TripAdvisor. Butler first started writing fake reviews for other restaurants and he was so obsessed with monitoring the ratings of these businesses, which led to the idea to start his own “restaurant” based on “best reviews”. The 5-star ratings his friends and family gave this faux restaurant resulted in being rated as the #1restaurant in London.
If you ever wondered if a review on digital platforms can impact your brand or business, the story of The Shed is an example of how reviews impact brand sentiment. Now, one of the reasons many people fear going digital, is because of bad reviews on their website or social media platforms.
Even though the digital era offers ample opportunity for people to grow their businesses, the thought of an online review that can destroy their businesses is too overwhelming.
“Online reviews are the new social proof” Chris Campbell from the Entrepreneur writes. But, what is social proof? It’s described as the psychological phenomenon in which people follow the actions of others in an effort to reflect what is considered correct behaviour for any given situation -- including online purchases, experiences, and services. Social proof influences people's decisions on how they should behave and what they should purchase or support. In another article, Qualtrics also reports that 93% of customers read online reviews before purchasing a product.
It’s crucial that your business understands the impact of reviews and fosters a good relationship between consumers and brands.
So, how do you manage a negative review?
Here are some meaningful tips on how to respond to a negative online review:
Respond promptly. People want to be ‘heard’, and it's important to respond as quickly and efficiently as possible. Also, respond to the review online – others need to see that you are responding, and assisting the unhappy client or customer.
Be honest. Don’t try and sugar-coat the truth.
Give a custom response. As a consumer, there is nothing as frustrating as receiving a ‘copy and paste’ version of an apology. Reply with a custom response showing empathy and compassion.
Always be professional.
Ensure you understand why the customer is unsatisfied
Take the rest of the conversation offline. According to SEJ(2020), a standard best practice for handling negative reviews is to take the communication offline as soon as you can. The key to doing so is to make it easy to move communication offline without overstepping boundaries.
Explain the process and steps you are going to follow to ensure the mistakes are rectified and plans you are putting in place to ensure that it doesn’t happen again
In some cases, a discount code or freebie can also help to soften the blow
Go the extra mile! If people see that you go above and beyond to make things right, they will end up having more loyalty and trust towards your business.
Be gentle with yourself, your staff, and the situation. Mistakes happen! But how we handle our mistakes is what matters.
Believe it or not, a negative review can be turned into something positive. When prospective clients see that you are owning up to your mistakes, and going the extra mile, it will encourage understanding and respect. Ask your customers and clients to leave reviews – positive and negative ones. The positive reviews will help your business grow organically, while the negative ones will guide you to know where your business can improve. Use online reviews to position your business for online success.