A new Uprise RI exclusive for Rhode Island small business owners.
I have been a small business owner and consultant here in Rhode Island for the better part of 20 years. Having worked with hundreds of companies, I have witnessed some great success stories and some avoidable failures. Every week, right here in this column about Uprise RI, I’ll do my best to help local small business owners like you learn best practices, discover new tricks, and just outwit their competition. As the United States slowly reopens in the coming months, I hope to include helpful tips for recovering from the pandemic and getting your business back on track.
The best way to respond to online reviews
Almost all companies receive reviews on Google and sites like Yelp, whether they want them or not. you should I love them, many of them. For most companies, there is no better seal of approval than positive reviews on popular third-party websites. But what happens when you receive a negative review?
Overall, there are three ways I’ve seen companies respond to negative customer reviews:
- Respond defensively, stating that the customer was wrong.
- Briefly apologize and ask the customer to call or email to discuss further.
- Respond in detail with a candid explanation of what might have happened, how the business takes responsibility, and how they will do the right thing.
Look, we all know that customers can exaggerate and / or invent damage they suffered that was their own fault. Every business that has ever existed has had clients like this. I’m not going to tell you that the customer is always right, because anyone who owns a business knows that this is not true. But, and this is important: the client must always feel as if they were correct. Apologizing to them in front of “everyone” online is always the best way and I’ll explain why with a common example.
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Become a pattern!
Opens in a new tab: you will not lose your place
You are a restaurant owner and a customer eats at your establishment, does not say a word to the server about his bad experience, but goes home and throws a one-star review on Trip Advisor and OpenTable. It reads: “I ordered the steak – it tasted like cardboard. Poor quality beef. The server never bothered to come and ask how everything was. Horrible!”
Oh! You try to do everything right, and yet this still happened. Does the customer have bad taste? Server deviated? Never mind. It’s Showtime. Your response to this review is both an attempt to correct the problem for that customer and a performance for everyone else. Your response must acknowledge that the complaint occurred, that this is not your standard of service, and include an exaggerated offer to correct it. Here is a sample answer:
“[Name]First of all, I am very sorry that this happened to you and thank you for drawing my attention. We pride ourselves on carefully selected meat and very attentive waiters. Clearly, this is not what you experienced and it is not entirely acceptable. I have discussed your complaint with my head chef and all of our waiters to determine why this happened and to ensure that this never happens again. I would be glad if you would allow us the opportunity to provide you with the 5 star service we are known for. My name is [name]Ask me on your next visit and your first round of drinks is on us. I hope to see you soon. And, thanks again for informing us about your visit.
The answer impacts 5 key elements:
- An apology that this has happened.
- Appreciation for posing the problem.
- Take steps to ensure that it does not happen again.
- Ask them to come back.
- Give them an incentive to come back.
While the example I used was for a restaurant, the same principles apply to almost any business. Are you a landscaper and one of your boys spoiled the lawn? An example of a response could be: “Thank you very much for informing us about this. After reviewing your complaint, we have thoroughly reviewed the proper court procedure with all of our staff, and I assure you this will not happen again. We will come patch the area tomorrow and your next cut will be complementary. “Would you re-establish your faith in a business that would respond that way? Very likely
Earlier I explained that your response to a negative review is not just a way of doing things right with the customer, but also a performance: Every person who reads your reviews (their “audience”) wants to see how they respond when things go wrong. . Humans are naturally risk-averse and want to be sure that if a problem arises, it will be handled professionally, thereby eliminating risk. His courteous and detailed response with a tantalizing offer assures everyone who reads that bad experiences are not the norm and that should one occur, they will correct it.
As a business owner, it can sometimes be difficult to respond politely to bad customers, especially when you know the incident and feel that your business did nothing wrong. I invite you to look at negative reviews as an opportunity. Consider this, which company would you trust the most: a) A company without criticism, or b) A company with a negative criticism, to which the company responded as indicated above Most would choose the latter: it is better to know that a company cares your clients when things go wrong than the completely unknown. And it is always important to think long term. Sure, in the short term he had to swallow his ego, apologize and offer the client something that [may not] deserve. But in the long run, he’s saved the customer (and if not, then he didn’t spend any money on his free drinks) and showed everyone reading his comments from now until as long as things go wrong, he’ll do it right.
Quick tip of the week
Businesses often help raise money for a variety of reasons, usually with a jar / can at the point of sale or through staff who ask customers directly. With the COVID-19 spike, some small businesses that are open are helping with relief by collecting donations. Here is a scientifically proven way to get more donations:
Instead of saying, for example, “Would you like to donate to COVID-19 aid to help those in need?” Say, “Would you like to donate to COVID-19 aid to help those in need? Even one dollar. It will be very useful “.
A scientific study showed that when the phrase “Even a dollar will be very useful” was added to the end of the application, people were almost double odds to donate as requested without the extra phrase at the end. In future columns, I will talk more about how small adjustments can have a big impact on results. Stay tuned.
Coronavirus Recovery Tip of the Week
One of the most popular ways open and closed businesses have been trying to raise cash has been to sell gift certificates. Offering gift certificates / cards is a great way to generate income that doesn’t have to be returned on products / services until later, when more government help has (hopefully) reached the small business community. But until then, if you want to sell more gift certificates, much more, offer them at a limited time discount. That’s exactly what Panera Bread did recently, and its GC sales soared. It’s not hard to see why: it’s hard to pass up 20% off at one of your favorite restaurants, and it comes at a time when many are trying to save money where they can. Sure, 20% is a hit for your margins, but again: long-term thinking is the key here. Customers often spend more than the GC amount (full price) and 4% of gift cards are never redeemed. Also, if the buyer gives the cards away, it has the potential to attract completely new customers who otherwise would never have come.