Studies show online reviews can make or break small and local businesses. Follow these three tips to generate good customer feedback.
Outside magazine published a story last month about 123Mountain, a Lakewood, Colorado-based retailer of outdoor apparel, footwear, gear and accessories. Though the storefront is listed as permanently closed, the retailer’s website remains active, and it’s through that channel that its most unsatisfied customers have complained of unfulfilled orders, awful customer service, and unreasonable terms and conditions.
Of the store’s 84 reviews on Yelp, only three rate it higher than one star, and many reviews begin with the disclaimer that customers would give zero stars if given the opportunity. The Better Business Bureau gives 123Mountain an F for the more than 100 complaints filed against it, among other factors.
The only Yelp review giving the company five stars states that the reviewer purchased a jacket for $100 less than other retailers were asking for, and only after the transaction did the purchaser read the “horror stories” about the company found online. Cases like this, according to Outside, are how 123Mountain has remained in business: by seducing customers with discounts and claiming availability of hard-to-find items.
This is not a long-term strategy and practically guarantees that all customers will be one-time buyers. But even businesses with good customer service and products can be negatively impacted by bad online reviews. A study by Nielsen found that 70% of online review readers find them to be somewhat or completely trustworthy. And Yelp users specifically are likely to make a purchase decision 93% of the time after reading reviews on a mobile device.
1. Offer customers a venue for feedback.
Before unsatisfied customers turn to social
media and sites like Yelp to voice their frustrations, offer them a
portal or form on your website or app to speak directly to you. If it’s difficult to communicate with your business, customers will find other more public ways to express their complaints.
2. Make giving feedback easy.
It’s not enough to only create a feedback
platform, you have to make customers want to use it. Surveys that are
too long or employ automated dialogue with a bot can make customers
check out before they tell you how to improve. Especially when dealing
with complaints, avoid automation. Everyone appreciates human
interaction and empathy.
3. Don’t retaliate.
When customers leave negative reviews, it’s
important to address them directly, but tactfully. At best you will not
change the mind of an upset customer, and at worst, retaliation could lead to lawsuits. As Jon Taffer, host of Bar Rescue tells Inc.,
businesses that put their effort into generating more positive reviews
will do more to negate the impact of a handful of bad ratings.
Businesses, especially local establishments and SMBs, have an interest in monitoring the feedback their customers post to online review sites. Boise, Idaho-based WTC Marketing suggests some best practices for engaging with customers to boost your online reputation.