We added ‘any longer’ to the title of this article for a reason: because it’s likely that you’re well-aware that your business may have a few negative reviews floating around on GoogleMyBusiness, Facebook, Yelp, Indeed…
“Whatever”, you might be thinking. Sure, there’s some negativity online, but it’s all lies, vendettas, spammers not worth your time. Maybe you’ve responded to a few already and given them a piece of your mind, called them out on their b*llshit so everyone could see the truth. Your customers know who you really are and the great work you do, and so do your employees. There’s no reason to give faceless people any more of your precious time, right?
100% wrong. No counter-argument. By choosing this path, you’re hurting the company. Period.
Check out some of these incredible stats on digital reputation:
- 93% of people say online reviews impact their buying decisions.
- 90% take the time to read online reviews before visiting a business.
- 91% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
- 68% of consumers are willing to pay up to 15% more for the same product or service if they are assured they will have a better experience.
Listen: we partner with family-owned and independent businesses all the time, so we know how committed you are and how hard you work. We know you take great pride in your image, your aesthetics, your presentation, your service.
So with that in mind: if someone mailed you a letter with a complaint, would you call them to talk, or at least try to get some answers? Probably.
So why do you ignore the letters you’re getting online? What’s the difference?
By ignoring, or lashing out at negative reviews, you’re damaging your connection with potential customers and future employees. Think of it this way: how you choose to respond to online reviews is another facet of building your precious brand; ideally, that your company is responsive, thoughtful, and genuinely cares about feedback.
Let’s look at a few myths to emphasize the importance of digital reputation:
Myth: People who leave negative reviews are all liars with vendettas.
Really? Sure about that? Every single person with something bad to say is wrong?
We say this all the time at The Spark: the truth is usually somewhere in the middle. People often feel more liberated to be meaner and more dramatic online, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a nugget of truth somewhere in their frustrated outpouring.
Are there some crazy people out there? Absolutely. But negative reviews can be a gift– sometimes it allows you to pinpoint a problem before you even realized it’s there. So really look at those reviews. Ask yourself if there’s any possibility of any part being true. If there’s even a hint of truth, investigate it. Growing and sustaining your company comes from evolution, not denial.
Myth: When I respond to reviews, I need to prove that the review is incorrect, or we are in the right so everyone can see.
We see this all the time: company responds to negative reviews with a lengthy explanation of their version of the truth. Sometimes it’s polite, sometimes it’s snarky or accusatory. The original poster may counter-reply, and the argument continues.
Basic rule? You don’t want these interactions happening online in front of thousands of curious viewers. At all. You’ll wind up looking spiteful or condescending by calling out the customer on their wrongs.
Instead, if you really want to get to the bottom of this issue, you want to encourage this conversation to happen off-line. In your neutral-worded response, ask the reviewer to contact you directly and provide a direct phone number or email.
Even if they are 100% in the wrong, this is the approach to take.
The more inflammatory the accusation, the shorter your response, but always offer them the opportunity to have a conversation. While you may never have that conversation, it’s more important that everyone else who sees that exchange will see that you responded and offered to talk more. That gives you the last word, and puts the original poster in a different, and perhaps even unreliable light.
Myth: People apply for jobs directly on my company website, so Indeed or Glassdoor reviews aren’t important.
We bet that every potential employee has checked out at least one of these platforms before applying to your company… or before they chose not to apply. Why?
Glassdoor considers itself the worldwide leader on insights about companies. Indeed offers free access to search for jobs and research companies. Both of them advertise themselves as gold standards in transparency, offering the real deal of working at a business, the inside scoop beyond the company’s marketing. Not only do these platforms display reviews from current and former employees, but also frequently-asked questions and answers, behind-the-scenes photos, the works.
In short: these platforms also impact your brand: this time, your brand as a viable employer.
The same rules apply for Glassdoor and Indeed as the standard review sites; if you’re ignoring people’s complaints, or responding in a hostile manner, you are influencing your future workforce. People will run in the other direction when they see negative review after negative review without any management. Go and look at what people are saying about your business, and approach it as if you were a stranger: what would your first impression be? if you were looking at a rival company, what would you think if you saw these comments?
If this sounds like a lot to process and manage, it can be! But, like it or not, your company needs to manage its digital reputation in order to stay relevant, and attract the clients and employees you need to keep growing.
Here’s where The Spark excels. We’ve already busted the myths for you in this article; if we’ve been telling some truth, and you’re ready to get your company’s reputation under control, give us a call. With our digital reputation management services, you can feel confident that your best side is always showing up in the digital world, every day.