Reputation Management:
Haters Gonna Hate.
Potatoes Gonna Potate.
But You Can’t Let Them Win…

So – You Got a Bad Google or Yelp Review?
What Do You Do?!?!? Is The Sky Falling?
Are You Going to Go OUT OF BUSINESS?

You work for years to build a good reputation, and then – in the blink of one pissed off (or mentally unstable) customer’s eye – it’s gone. It’s ALL GONE!

First off – don’t freak. Breathe. It’s going to be o.k.

Your good name may be a little tarnished – but it’s not time to throw a belt over the shower curtain rod, if you know what I’m saying.

There are ways to handle it, and there are things you can do to actually make it a positive for you.

First and foremost, remember – in the words of Douglas Adams – DON’T PANIC.

If you freak and lash out at the person who left you a bad review, you’re just going to come off as a jerk. You’ll be seen as reactionary, or like you’ve got something to hide. Stay calm, think about the situation, develop a plan, THEN act.

Step One: Validate

Is the review even real? In this day and age, it’s pretty easy for a competitor or a psychopath to leave a false review in hopes of making you look like a heel. Check the review. Do you remember the complainer? Did you actually do business with this person? If not, you have a little bit of a different issue – but it’s still an issue you have to deal with. Unfortunately, it’s damned near impossible to have a review taken down – even if it IS fake. The best you can do is mitigate the situation by acting appropriately, and taking the high road.

If it is a legitimate customer with a legitimate beef with you or your service, you still need to act. This is not the time to run and hide and hope that it’ll just go away. It won’t.

Step Two: Act, Act Like an Adult and Act Quickly

You’re not only responding to the complaint, you’re also showing future prospects and clients how you handle a dissatisfied customer. If you lash out and call names and act like a jerk – what is that going to say? That, on top of a bad review, is a recipe for losing prospects. Not good.

First – act quickly. This shows that you’re committed to making things right. It shows that you’re accountable an that you want to be fair and decent – even with folks you may have upset.

If someone left a fraudulent review:

  • Address what they’re complaining about and offer a sincere apology.
  • State that you can’t seem to find them in your customer list.
  • Offer to fix the situation, and invite them to reach out directly to you.
  • FLAG THE REVIEW. Report it as fraudulent.

Even if you flag the review, it may still appear to prospective customers for a while. It might NEVER get taken down – so ignoring it is just going to look bad on you while it’s still up.

If someone has a legitimate (or even semi-legit) complaint:

  • Address their complaint – and own up to your part. Even if it’s only half or a tiny bit true – own it.
  • No excuses. Just don’t.
  • Give an assurance that it won’t happen again.
  • Offer to fix the problem.

Step Three: Fix the Problem

This is kind of the hard part. If your customer has a legitimate complaint, you need to work hard to ensure that it’ll never happen again – and that your future (or current) customers don’t have to complain about the same thing.

If it means that you have to change a product, discipline an employee or refine and adjust your system – it’s ON YOU to fix the problem so that it’s not a problem in the future.

Need to send a refund? Do it – even if it hurts.

If you can fix it quickly enough and thoroughly enough, you may even be able to make the negative reviewer happy enough to pull down the review on their own.

Not only will this step make your business better, it’ll (probably) lead to more positive reviews. Or at least make it a little easier to sleep at night.

Step Four: Follow Up

Check back with the upset party. Try to make them happy. This could actually turn the negative review into a win. If you fix the problem and win the trust of the reviewer – they may even come back and give you a compliment. Nice.

If it was a fraudulent review, keep checking back to see if the flagging and reporting got the review taken down. If not, keep trying – sometimes you have to flag fraudulent reviews several times to get them stricken.

Keep an eye on it.

Step Five: Get More Good Reviews

Getting more GOOD reviews helps in a myriad of ways.

First, it shows prospective customers that you ARE good and trustworthy. This is always a good thing. You work hard to get leads, and you don’t want a negative review to run ’em off.

Secondly, good reviews are good SEO. Google loves to see a well-reviewed business. Your Google My Business page will have a higher rank, and you’ll be much more likely to be highly ranked in the Google Map Pack. That’s the list with the map at the top of a lot of Google searches. You should be there – it’s the tippity top of the top rank. Sweet.

Third, good reviews will bury the bad reviews. The more you have good reviews, the less likely it is that prospects will see the bad ones.

How Do You Get More Good Reviews?

First: Ask.

Ask early – as soon as your project or service is complete. The sooner you ask for a review, the more likely folks are to actually give you a review. If you wait, it’s harder – because memory fades and people are busy.

Some ways to garner those good reviews:

  • Email Requests: Send ’em an email and just ASK.
  • In-Store/Office Displays: Put up a sign on your desk – and point blank tell your customers you covet their reviews.
  • Leave-Behinds/Stuffers: Give customers a neat card or sheet to remind them that you’d love a review.
  • Website Banners: If you have a site that folks come back to (especially good for ecommerce sites,) a well-placed banner or message can give a nice reminder to leave a review.
  • Good Old Fashioned Phone Call: Reach out and touch someone. Again – just ask. If your customers are happy, they’re likely to share.

The Big Takeaway…

Act quickly, act maturely, and act like you care about your customers and their reviews – even if they’re not legit. Get good, happy customers to leave you good, happy reviews. Deal with the negativity, learn from your mistakes and move on to build a better, stronger business.