Kim Komando: How to offer, respond to criticism in online reviews
BY KIM KOMANDO
Sunday, June 24, 2012
6/24/12 at 3:07 AM
Every day, millions of Americans buy electronic gadgets and other products in stores. They dine out at new restaurants they've wanted to try. They visit salons to get massages.
Chances are a few hundred shoppers will get stuck in checkout lanes that won't move. A few hundred diners will be served meals that are cold and distasteful. A few hundred massage clients will get rubbed the wrong way.
When that happens, you can bet that many of these frustrated customers will visit online review sites and social media platforms to vent their frustrations.
Occasionally, some of these incidents turn into feuds and flare into lawsuits and major news stories. Bad reviews affect all kinds of businesses and services. Just last month, a pastor in Oregon filed a $500,000 defamation suit against a former member of his congregation who blogged some unflattering opinions of him.
When reviews cross the line into libel or cause monetary damage, it can become costly to the poster. So discretion is always advisable. Additionally, as a small business owner, what should you do when the assault is on you? This calls for a refresher in Online Reputation Management 101. Studies say 7 out of 10 consumers trust online reviews just as much as they do recommendations from friends and family members.
So this is important.
In our increasingly mobile and social world, reviews posted to Yelp, TripAdvisor and other sites can have a tremendous impact on local businesses.
Whether you're a business owner, a professional or a hard-working barista, everyone spends a lot of time being a customer. And no business is perfect.
When you're the victim of poor service or a bad product, it's all too easy to fire up the Web browser and start pounding the keyboard in a fit of rage.
As a reviewer, take a deep breath and think about what you're trying to accomplish with a review. Mainly, you want to make management aware of your experience in a calm, honest and rational manner.
Who knows - maybe the restaurant will change the way it handles reservations, or the shop will begin offering a more liberal return policy. It's a win for the business and also for folks who are researching online reviews a few weeks or months down the road.
One thing is sure: There's no chance you'll bring about a positive change like that if you're ranting, misspelling every other word and planting an exclamation point (or several) at the end of every sentence.
On the other hand, when you get a bad review as a business owner, what should you do? It's important to respond quickly. Offer your apology in public comments. Explain how you will take steps to ensure that the situation doesn't happen again. Don't be argumentative, and no matter how justified you feel, don't be defensive.
Additionally, send the offended customer a private message and offer a discount or an exchange if the situation warrants it.
Legitimate criticism about your business is like free - but invaluable - market research. You can get ideas about how your procedures, operations and employee-training can be improved. Choose to view it as a positive opportunity.
Set up Google Alerts to monitor what customers are saying about your business. The quicker you're able to catch people talking about your business, the more quickly you can join the conversation.
When customers have a great experience with your service or product, encourage them to write online reviews. A steady stream of positive reviews will also help bury negative comments in search results.
Don't cheat, however, and have friends and relatives suddenly write a barrage of glowing reviews. They sound like exactly what they are. And don't offer customers discounts or coupons in exchange for upbeat reviews.
Original Print Headline: How to offer, respond to critique in online review
Kim Komando hosts the nation's largest talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet. Listen to her show from 1-4 p.m. each Sunday on KRMG am740 or fm102.3. To receive her newsletters, go to tulsaworld.com/komandonewsletters.