By 2025 you will be buying a car on social media! That prediction came from a director at a large digital agency and is based on booming e-commerce and social commerce during the last 18 months. This acceleration is due to payment and shopping functions on platforms, but crucially on the reliance on reviews with research stating prospects trust online influencer and customer reviews 94% more than family and friends.
Online reviews have traditionally seen managers proud of 4- and 5-star reviews, from our trusted members who are clearly right, and we thank them for their honesty, while lower scores have been met less enthusiastically, sometimes even with denial and claims of axes to grind or members constantly moaning. As 90% of consumers state they read reviews prior to purchasing, and Google using review data to drive visibility, it is vital we adapt our approach.
Now the good news – according to research from Reevoo bad reviews reduce site abandonment, with time on site increasing from 3 minutes to over 18 minutes, and increase trust, with a decrease in trust when reviews do not include complaints. The important thing therefore is that we handle them in the right way – but that is sometimes where the confusion lies, what is the right way to deal with negative reviews?
The answer to this is typically multi-faceted and different brands deal with negative reviews in different ways, and this is driven by brand personality. Ryanair famously slammed one complainer as an “idiot” for forgetting to print her boarding card, while British Airways carries a more apologetic tone for complaints – different personalities require different approaches.
Once you have considered how you brand “behaves” online, then this checklist provides an outline for the steps to take.
- Respond promptly – the average expectation from consumers has dropped from 59 minutes response time, to a low of 5 minutes. Do not leave the consumer waiting for the next time someone is on shift
- Be real and admit mistakes – everyone makes mistakes, and admitting when you have got it wrong can go a long way with both the complainer, and how others view your response
- Correct inaccuracies – if a complaint is not accurate then correct it, but make sure that it is handled in the right manner, inline with your brand personality
- Highlight your strengths – hidden in most complaints is a way to turn the message into a positive highlight for others, search for these opportunities
- Write like a person – people make complaints, so respond like a person and not like a corporation
- Take it offline – if the complaint requires investigation or discussion take it offline, then confirm the outcome online. People reading reviews do not want to see continual comments, but not resolving it online looks like nothing was done
- Be consistent – never thank positive reviews, while ignoring negative reviews
- Provide compensation if warranted – does not have to be financial, or membership discounts, but smaller gestures can help