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No one is perfect, and neither is any one home service business. Even if your technicians have tried their best, you may still receive a negative review on Yelp, Google Reviews or even on your local Better Business Bureau’s site. The occasional bad review is as common as dirt when you’re dealing with the public because no company can meet the needs of everyone.
And even though a bad review can make business owners feel like they’ve been kicked in the gut, they should never take it personally. You can extract a silver lining from every cloud; even a negative review can benefit your business and your brand.
A good public relations professional will always advise that you have an ongoing dialog with your customers, including recognizing both good and bad reviews. Here’s why you should keep a close eye on your reviews and leverage them to build your business.
Instead of looking at your one- or two-star reviews with despair, take some time to study the complaints to see if the problem is something you can easily solve.
As a business owner, you can’t be everywhere at once, so there may have been a problem brewing that you weren’t even aware of until a customer’s complaint. For example, maybe you discover some of your equipment is faulty, or you have an employee who has been improperly trained.
You can take up these issues with the equipment manufacturer or your in-house supervisor who oversees employee training. You should always thank the customer for pointing out this deficiency and briefly explain what you’re doing to rectify the situation.
This makes the customer feel as though he has been heard and has input into the solution. It also shows other readers that you listen to and act upon customer concerns.
Believe it or not, negative reviews can help you build trust with your customers.
Most studies show that between 92 percent and 95 percent of customers read online reviews before they decide to hire a home service company. And consumers are savvier than they are sometimes given credit for.
If you only display your positive results, customers will wonder if you’re purposely not showing any bad reviews you may have received. Customers will lose trust in your company if they feel you are hiding things from them and move on to a more transparent competitor.
While you may feel embarrassed by your bad reviews, it’s better to display them along with an answer that provides an immediate solution. The fact that you’re presenting your reviews — warts and all — shows consumers you have nothing to hide. That you also provide a visible solution further shows you’re willing to take criticism and correct mistakes.
Your customer base is predominantly comprised of lay people who lack the technical knowledge to do the job your company was hired to do; this is why you were hired in the first place. Often, negative reviews may result from a misunderstanding between what you must do to correctly repair the damage and what the customer thought should be done.
Because your company is often governed by industry standards that must be met or even government regulations that are required to achieve and keep your license, these regulations may overrule what your customer wants.
As a result, this customer may rate your company low or write a scathing review on Yelp, Google or even his own social media channels.
However, this isn’t a time to throw up your hands in despair at the lack of knowledge this customer has about your industry — it’s a time to use this review as a teachable moment.
First, make sure to apologize to the customer for any misunderstanding. Perhaps your technician didn’t properly communicate to him why an action had to be taken, or the customer didn’t understand that you’re bound by regulations. You don’t want to sound “preachy” or give the impression that you think your customer isn’t smart.
Instead, use your reply to explain more fully why the action was taken. Even if it doesn’t satisfy the affected customer, other potential consumers will read the reply and see that you abide by the rules and regulations of your industry or federal, state or local laws enacted to protect them from harm.
Prompt Response is Necessary
If you receive a negative review, don’t let it fester online and hope that more positive reviews will be along soon to push it down the page.
Human nature being what it is, people are drawn to bad news. That’s why headlines about scandals, motor vehicle accidents and political malfeasance are generally more read and shared than feel-good stories. The same is true of bad reviews.
If you receive a negative review, it might get viewed more than all your positive reviews put together; that’s why you can’t ignore them.
Most of the time, a customer simply wants to feel as though he has been heard and a solution is being provided. If you let a negative review sit unanswered for weeks or months, other potential customers will feel as though you don’t care about your current customers and will move on to a home service provider who does.
You should also respond to positive reviews, as well. You may think that if the customer is satisfied, then your job is done. However, it’s not only polite to acknowledge a kind review, it also lets others who are merely reading the reviews know that you read them, too.
Allowing your customers’ comments or reviews to fall into a black hole can damage your reputation and create problems as you attempt to grow your business.
Remember that you are only as good as your last review. A key part of good public relations is building trust. Reviews are simply something you cannot take lightly and if this isn’t something you feel comfortable doing, it may be best to let a professional handle your responses.