Live or Die by the Online Reviews.

Live or Die by Online Reviews

Since we are all still feeling the affects of March Madness, at least at our house, I thought it would be OK if I reference a saying we in the basketball world hear a lot. “Live or Die by the three.” Typically it is associated with teams who live and die by the three pointer, but today we are talking online review.  The same principle applies to the outcome of the game when you rely on the three as it does to a business relying on reviews. Let me tell you why. In basketball, if you are hitting shots — if every three you take is going in like the hoop is an ocean — then it is likely — provided you are playing even a little D (defense) — that you will outscore your opponents and win the game. If you are getting all 5 star ratings and relying on that alone to propel your business to the next level and that alone is working then great you are winning. But every team has a bad shooting night. Every business has had a bad performance. It is impossible to make everyone happy all of the time. We are human and mistakes happen, shots get missed, orders are delivered wrong… so when that happens what is your game plan?  

As you know from my previous posts, navigating the world of online reviews has become an essential part of doing business. Because for most of us our business is a big part of our lives, and dealing with negative reviews can present a host of issues, ignite many emotions, and send up a slurry of questions. Are they haters or is there truth to what they are saying? Are they just cyber bullies trying to get something for nothing or do I have a problem? No matter, having a game plan and consistent approach when things don’t go as planned, or better yet a strong defense for when the shots aren’t falling, is your best course of action.

Be a brand of your word not of the moment.

Let’s face it, everyone says they offer good customer service, but very few actually deliver on that promise. When you visit a place that is embracing the customer-first-promise, you can literally feel it in the air when you walk in the door. Their online reviews, for the most part, represent that as well with a glowing gold star rating. But because “good customer service” is an exception to the rule, the reality is we live in a world where many brands are over promising and under delivering and have created an atmosphere of brand haters. AND these haters want to be heard, so they are taking the time to spread the word of their broken promises. In doing so this can get personal and emotional. So it is important to remember that in addressing the reviews, to sort out what is a legitimate complaint and how it can be addressed. Use the information to ensure your brand is inline with what you are promising. Make adjustments where needed and respond accordingly letting the reviewer and all their spectators know they have been heard.

Don’t get bullied!

Keeping the above atmosphere in mind and the fact that many businesses are scrambling to make right the wrongs, there is a whole community of online bullies out there just trying to get something for nothing. Whether they are a disgruntled former employee who takes the time to create a fake profile to spread slander (BTW, these people have WAY too much time on their hands.) and lies just to hurt the brand, or an actual customer who just wants a free meal; it does not matter. The system is set up to protect them and potentially harm the business.  BUT our hands are not tied. Take the Uber approach, for example, if a driver is given a poor review, both the account of the driver and the user are temporarily suspended while they investigate the claims so that appropriate action can be taken. Not only is this an incentive for the drivers to deliver Uber’s brand promise to all it’s users no matter the city, but it means a clear expectation of honest feedback has been defined for the users as well. An Uber reliant user won’t be quick to make false claims for fear their account will be indefinitely suspended. What type of accountability policy can you put into place for your business? Be sure this policy is clearly communicated with all parties involved and be consistent with your response.

Things to Consider:

  • Take a deep breath. It isn’t the end of the world. You can do this.
  • Have a plan that includes consistent and timely response to reviews, good or bad. Have a plan and a budget to leverage those reviews and favorable outcomes.  
  • Have a transparent policy that calls for accountability by all parties. Be prepared to consistently follow through with whatever is outlined in the policy.
  • Letting them go… At some point you have to decide if they are worth it. Not all business is good business. If a customer is that unhappy, consider asking them to go somewhere else. Let them out of their contract and send them elsewhere.

Unlike teams losing a game because their threes just won’t fall that night — I have yet to see a business fail solely because of their negative review.  If a legitimate complaint persists over many reviews, there is something much deeper than the surface-level issues being shared by customers. Think of each review as one game.  You might fail that one game, but if you address the issues and make changes for the better chances are you will have a winning season. If you have a troublesome hater, you might consider enacting some sort of accountability policy to call the game. It is not worth your time and energy to play a game you will never win. If you need help navigating the world of online reviews and want to create an alternative offense and defensive plan for winning, give me a shout, we would love to help!

P.S. How about those Hawkeye Women?  WOW! They are an impressive bunch! What a season!  Go Hawks!

Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash