Yelp.com is a review site that relies on customer submissions to rate the products and services of local businesses. This platform has grown substantially in the last five years. Some businesses have taken an interest in Yelp reviews, but there are plenty that are ignoring them at their own peril.
Customer reviews can be extremely scary for large and small businesses alike – and Yelp isn’t the only review site. Similar sites like Google, Angie’s List, and Yahoo! are all open forums where customers share their positive and negative experiences. Every business owner wants the ideal situation where everyone is saying great things about their company. The reality is that no company is perfect and negative reviews can deeply impact a business’s revenue.
Reviews should be taken seriously because responses to complaints or compliments are opportunities for businesses to improve their reputation. Reviews are also an opportunity for managers and owners to improve their customer service.
We have filtered through several different industries and selected three negative reviews from the automotive, retail, and personal service industry as examples to provide tips on how to respond.
Companies plagued by a notoriously dishonest industry
This automotive dealer is accused of what several automotive maintenance companies have been accused of: taking advantage of their customer’s lack of knowledge about the industry. Even if a business has never promoted these practices among its employees, automotive businesses need to go out of their way to impress upon their employees, as well as their customers, that their business is run with integrity and honesty. This can be done through such practices as:
- Only let professionals quote customer prices;
- Stand by any quoted prices;
- If you work for an industry where pricing is uncertain, make sure that the customer understands that pricing can change before you provide the service;
- Tell customers what you are doing as you do it; and
- Don’t use scare tactics that take advantage of a customer’s ignorance.
If this kind of review is posted about your dealership or mechanic shop, reach out to the customer first and try to move the conversation offline. When the issue is resolved, ask them to post a follow-up to their complaint. If a compromise isn’t reached, at least other users will know that you are listening and trying to take action. However, if you see multiple, credible reviews discussing the same kind of problem, it may be time to look for answers internally.
The Mom-and-Pop Effect
Mom-and-pop businesses are patronized by customers because they can offer a level of service that is absent at big businesses. This Yelp review proves that the only thing worse than poor customer service is when a business loses a customer’s property and then allegedly calls them a liar.
One of the ways that mom- and-pop businesses build customer loyalty is by building relationships with their customers. The benefit is continued business growth through referrals and positive reviews. Again, your first step when you receive a negative review like the one above is to reach out to the customer to take the conversation offline. If you have a relationship with your customers this will be a painless process and you will almost always learn something valuable about your business that you didn’t know before.
Un-Customer service = Customer Dissatisfaction
This Yelp reviewer is complaining about the very basics of customer service not being met. Customer service positions are not for everyone, but customers expect those who occupy them to be good at what they do. Employees can no longer exhibit customer service that barely meets expectations. Customers want to be able to brag about the service they receive, or they will simply seek it from a competitor. The customer service failed in this situation when:
- The customer was forgotten;
- The employees were unapologetic;
- The employee did not acknowledge the loyalty card; and
- The employee did not act correctly to find the package.
One of the worst moves that a company can make is to take these complaints personally and become publicly defensive. Instead, companies should see these review websites as an opportunity to understand exactly how their customers think, find where customer service fails, and learn how to improve current processes.
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