Since the recent Olympics, I’ve been thinking about Ryan Lochte and how the negative comments affected his brand. Unfortunately, businesses are no different from personalities and once you are interacting with an audience the potential is there for a positive likewise a bad review.
It’s often said that word of mouth travels faster than any form of media. In fact, for decades, people have shared and made big decisions using the simple yet resounding power of word of mouth. In studies conducted by Nielsen it was discovered that 84% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends about products and services. Researching statistics, I discovered that 88% of people trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts (BrightLocal). Interestingly, 72% say reading a positive customer review increases their trust in a business, notably it takes on average 2-6 reviews to get 56% of them to this point (BrightLocal).
Considering these statistics, the influential impact reviews can have on customers and ultimately sales, how can a business rectify a negative circumstance. Firstly, do not panic – every business at some point will receive a negative comment or review. However, I believe response is the key. When dealing with negative reviews, sales personnel should act quickly – ideally within the first day of receiving a complaint. This will demonstrate customer care, responsibility and the highest standards of professionalism. In dealing with the complaint an explanation should be given, however as one of my marketing professors taught me “you should not apologise for the same scenario constantly or for too long”. Remember you want to correct a fault and provide helpful information – not dwell on the issue.
On the flipside, bad reviews can help you think about your business strategy from the consumer’s point of view and improve your overall product and service delivery. Therefore, negative reviews can be viewed as a ‘checkpoint’ to make crucial changes which can help satisfy customers’ needs which will essentially increase sales if it is managed correctly.
Additionally, I read somewhere recently, that if your website has only glowing commendations there is disbelief by potential customers as they walk away with the notion that the reviews are screened and unrealistic. Let’s put it this way NO business can receive 100% customer satisfaction – they can come really close but there will always be someone to complain or scepticism on some level.
Nowadays, the buyer is in charge; to survive in this environment the best sales people will need to embrace the following skills: –
- Understand what the buyer wants
- Sell in a buyer responsive manner
- Establish trust with the buyer
- Act on what the customer is saying
- Use a variety of marketing skills
- Demonstrate expertise on the subject matter
Appreciating the nature of a disgruntled customer can help overcome bad reviews and hopefully reduce the number of complaints. Responding to negative reviews may take more time but it will assist in building trust-based relationships and demonstrating the value your customer base has to you by working on them and not simply throwing it away.