Great local businesses are built on reputation. This has been true for decades, if not longer. A great reputation will sky rocket your business and a poor reputation has the potential to kill your business.
One thing has changed, though. Nowadays, customers can easily find and speak about a business by reading and posting online reviews. Review websites like Yelp make it easy for customers to find the best local businesses, based solely on reputation. It’s basically local word-of-mouth marketing… on steroids.
All businesses are naked to the world because their reputation is easy for anyone to find. A business with 5 stars is the best and most likely to be chosen, while a business with 1 star is most likely to be avoided, especially if it has multiple 1 and 2 star reviews.
While this level of transparency has been great for local businesses with dedicated customers that are willing to rave about them online, restaurants in particular, it’s also been a nightmare for millions of other local businesses. Unfortunately, most local businesses don’t usually have the time or resources needed to implement the proper systems and processes needed to get hundreds of 5 star reviews, even if they do have hundreds of happy customers. This leaves most businesses at an immediate disadvantage because businesses need reviews to compete and be successful online.
3 Tips to Avoid Getting Bad Reviews from Customers
It only takes 1 bad review from 1 pissed off customer to tear down a business’s reputation. So, in an effort to help the many local businesses that don’t currently have a reputation strategy, we’ve pulled together 3 of our favorite tips businesses should follow to avoid getting bad reviews from customers.
1. Ask EVERY Customer About Their Buying Experience
Most businesses don’t do this and we’ve scratched our head many times trying to figure out why. Why wouldn’t you want to know what your customers do or don’t like?
The best way to implement asking every customer about their experience is to make it part of your checkout process. Simply ask each customer, “how was your experience today?” It’s very important that you do this BEFORE they leave your store or office.
The main goal is to make sure you know if something bad happened so you can fix the problem and remedy the situation. Once the customer leaves, there’s a significantly higher chance of a complaint (1 star review) showing up on public sites like Yelp or even social media sites, especially if they feel like you don’t care. If you ask them how their buying experience went before they leave, you’re proving to them that you do care.
Nervous about what your customers are going to say? Remember that getting feedback, even if it’s terrible, never hurts. There’s a good possibility that you’re going to get a tip or some important information that will improve your business (and profits) or, at the least, you’ll get the opportunity to fix an issue that’s impacting many of your customers that they aren’t telling you about.
PRO TIP: Give customers an easy way to give you feedback AFTER they leave, as well. Not only will you increase the amount of overall feedback you’ll get from your customers, you’ll also decrease the chances of an unhappy customer sharing a poor experience on Yelp. If you give customers an easy way to provide feedback, they’ll usually vent there first, keeping a negative experience from showing up on public sites across the internet.
2. Invest in Customer Service Training for Your Employees
Stop what you’re doing right now and start a standard operating procedure (SOP) of how you want each of your customers to be treated every time they come to your store or office.
Do it now! We’ll wait for you…
Your goal with this SOP is to create a consistent customer experience so they always know what to expect when they visit. Spend time to document the customer flow from start to finish. Here’s a few examples:
- What does a customer hear when they enter your office?
- Employees talking?
- The humming of computers and other machines?
- An assistant that greets them with “Welcome! How can I help you today?”.
- What does a customer see when they enter your office?
- A clean and tidy waiting room?
- An area with snacks and refreshments?
- Recent magazines to read while they wait?
- How do employees answer the phone when a customer or vendor calls?
- State their name and ask how they can help?
- Mention the business name?
- Tell the person to hold? (What do they hear while they’re waiting?
- What happens when a customer is leaving the office?
- They’re acknowledged and wished a nice day?
- They’re asked how their experience was and if there was anything that could’ve been done to better serve them
- Someone opens the door for them and tells them that they look forward to seeing them next time?
- How should employees handle upset customers?
- Tell the customer they’ll pass the feedback on to the owner?
- Ask the customer to step aside while they get the owner?
- Apologize for the poor experience and hand the customer a tablet that has a feedback form that asks the customer to elaborate on who, where, when, and what happened? (Ask us about our feedback app!).
These are a few examples to illustrate why all employees need to know what their role is in the customer service process.
Remember, happy employees are your first defense against unhappy customers. Training your employees in the art of customer service will give them the basics they need to handle any situation they might face.
PRO TIP: Recording pre-made workshops and training modules that you can use over and over to train new employees could save you hundreds of hours in the future. Not sure where to start? We can help – ask us about our employee training center.
3. Be the Best Rated Local Business Online
People are reading and trusting online reviews from customers like never before.
This is not a trend. This is the new reality for all local businesses and it’s actually really good news for businesses that know how to use it to their advantage.
If your business doesn’t currently have any reviews, has a few poor reviews, or has a mix of good and bad reviews, then customers are surprisingly less likely to choose your business if there are better options available that have a better rating.
If there aren’t better options that they can find then they might still become a customer but they’re going to be much more on-guard walking into your office. Unfortunately, they’ll be playing the bad reviews over and over in their heads and waiting for the something bad to happen to them. There’s nothing you’ll be able to do o impress them except provide exceptional service and hopefully you can wow them into leaving you a great review.
Have you ever heard the phrase “a good offense is a good defense”? It works for your reputation, as well.
Having dozens of great reviews not only wins over the trust of other potential customers, it also decreases the chances of unhappy customers writing a bad review about you. Think about it. Getting a 1 star review is bad, right? Of course. But, it’s looks much worse when it’s the only review available.
What happens when that 1 bad review is the only bad review out of hundreds of reviews? Suddenly the person that left that bad review isn’t as credible. They’re now an anomaly. In fact, that bad review will no longer be seen as relevant to potential customers. This is reputation marketing at it’s finest because your happy customers have made it easier for potential customers to trust your business, and it’s also given you peace of mind that a few unhappy customers can no longer single-handedly tear down your reputation.
If you’re looking for a great way to increase the online presence of your business, we highly suggest you get more information about our reputation marketing system so we can manage, build, and market your reputation to get you more customers. Nothing says you’re a great business more than having dozens of happy customers saying it for you.