Today’s post is all about customer reviews and how to deal with our natural tendency to share bad experiences before good experiences.

Just think back to a time where you had a terrible experience with a business. Maybe you were buying groceries, making an appointment at the dentist or calling in for technical support. How many people did you tell?

Now think of a time when you had an amazing experience with a business. The salesperson went above and beyond what was required and your expectations were more than just met.

Finally think of a time when you had average experience with a business. Maybe you had an oil change, made a return or went out for dinner. Did you tell anyone about the experience even though everything you expected happened?

If you are like most consumers you probably told the most people about a terrible experience and the least people about an average experience.

This blog post comes out of a recent survey published by MarketingCharts.com headline that reads:

Bad Customer Service Interactions
More Likely to be Shared Than Good Ones

This means that when people are upset that their expectations (whether real or perceived) are not met they are likely to “badmouth” your business.

Poor Customer Experiences Get Shared in Person and Online!

Customers today have a variety of mediums to share their poor customer experiences. MarketingCharts confirms that:

  • 81% tell friends and family in person  about bad customer service
  • 57% tell coworkers in person about bad customer service
  • 45% tell friends online through social media about a bad customer service experience
  • 35% write online reviews through online reviews sites like Yelp and Google Places.
  • Only 5% don’t tell anyone about a bad customer experience!

If one of your customers has a bad experience for whatever reason you better be prepared for them to share this with someone else in some way shape or form.

There Are More Platforms for Your Customers
to Share Their Experience Than Ever Before

Business owners should be aware not only that the strong majority of customers will tell about a bad experience but that they will also tell about it in multiple ways. Just a few basic examples include:

  • Telling their family at dinner
  • Telling the story to a group of co-workers the next day in the lunchroom
  • Publishing a Facebook post about you to their 200+ friends
  • Tweeting about your company with hashtags and @’s
  • Writing a permanent online review about your company on your Google Places listing

The Bad Outweighs the Good,
The Ordinary Goes Untold

Overall we learn that 95% of people share a bad experience where as only 87% share a good experience. All of the satisfactory, okay, not out of the ordinary experiences likely go untold!

5 Tips to Encourage Positive Customer Experiences and
Elicit Positive Online Reviews

As we see, as humans we are more naturally inclined to focus on sharing negative experiences. This means that businesses have to go out of their way to try to get the good experiences shared too. Here are five ways you can start collecting more of the good to outweigh the bad:

  1. Ask. Don’t forget to actually ask the client for a written testimonial after they share how happy they are with the service or product you just delivered.
  2. Promote. Make your Yelp and Google Plus pages visible to all your customers and raise awareness for this method to publish reviews. Negative reviews tend to be placed on these sites;  have your happy customers also post their experiences!
  3. Follow Up. Use a follow up email to customers a few days after their purchase requesting feedback. This will come across as “good customer service” while you are getting what you want – feedback.
  4. Highlight. Make sure to highlight reviews on your website so that customers know you are open to their feedback. You can even create a Feedback Form on your website to make it fast and easy for customers to send you their review.
  5. Get Social. Use Facebook to ask your fans for reviews. Post a link to the review page on your website, to your profile on major online directories or even develop a campaign to have customers upload video reviews to your YouTube channel.

How to Respond to Negative Online Customer Reviews

It’s bound to happen to every business; you can’t please everyone.

But what do you do when you come across a negative online review that goes against everything your business works so hard to establish?

  1. Time is everything. As soon as you see a bad review you need to deal with it at the risk of appearing unresponsive, uncaring or secretive says  Charlie Pownall.
  2. Admit your mistakes. If your business is at fault don’t be afraid to be honest. Sincerity and humility go a long way in showing that your business is real and makes mistakes too. Offer an apology and share how the problem is being resolved.
  3. Genuine commitment to changing. After apologizing offer a few suggestions of how you are working to ensure the issue doesn’t happen again and what you have learned through the situation.
  4. Follow up. Make sure you add value and try to rebuild trust. True customers can recognize when you sincerely sorry and are trying to make things right again.
  5. Discredit false claims. Take control of reviews that are not true or misleading to others. State the facts clearly without getting into an argument. If something happened that could be perceived as negative explain why it is that way; it could be to protect customers or keep a high standard of service.  There is always two sides to a story.

Remember … as Many as 90% of Consumers Say Buying Decisions are Affected By Online Reviews

If you think offline and online customer reviews don’t require your attention, think again.

Constant Contact reports that 90% of consumers who recall reading online reviews say the positive reviews influence their decision to buy. Constant Contact says:

“Today more than ever, consumers want to know they can trust businesses to provide a positive experience before deciding to make a purchase, sign up for a service, or even visit your place of business.

As a business owner, the best thing you can do to get the most out of online reviews is to encourage the people who know you best to share their feedback. While it can be intimidating to ask, the reviews and recommendations from your best customers can have a major impact on your business.”

What are you doing to build your online reviews?

How do you deal with negative online reviews?