Recently, the CEO of a large financial services business asked for help developing a strategy to deal with negative online reviews of his company that were materially impacting financial results. He was simultaneously amazed and outraged that a small number of people with complaints that were not (in his case) entirely well founded could do so much harm.
If you’re a restaurant, bad reviews online can impede your reservations, and that’s bad enough. But if your business is grounded in high value or persistent transactions, bad online reviews can genuinelly harm your profitability. My clients are stunned by how many people look at Yelp before refinancing a mortgage, buying life insurance, or picking a bank. And organic search engine results for your business will turn up review results high in the rankings, whether good or bad, from sites both legitimate and those which only appear to be so.
By the time a bad review is placed online, much of the damage is already done. Remediation is sometimes possible, but it is difficult and time consuming. “Moving” negative search results requires patience and substantial budgets to actually work.
A better strategy is avoiding bad reviews proactively throughout the transaction cycle.
My clients carefully measure client satisfaction throughtout complex negotiations and transactions by asking satsifaction questions at key points. As a transaction concludes, they will ask clients to review their interactions with the company, and rate them from 1 to 5 stars. An answer of less than 4 stars sets off a referral of the client to a specialist to look over the transaction history and focus on finding collaborative solutions to any problems.
In addition, we create early warning systems that empower front line employees to notify specialists when transactions are going off the rails, so that early intervention can boost client satisfaction, regardless of the outcome. These front line referrals are structured to reward employees who participate, not punish them.
We also encourage clients to regulalrly post links to positive reviews in their own digital media, both as a credibility booster, and a reminder to other clients that they can support the staff that helped them by offering a positive review online.
It’s surprising but true that most customers who feel they have been respected and treated wih courtesy and effort will not downrate an organization in reviews, even if their own outcome is not what they desired. Its angry people who go out of their way looking to “get even” with a business they feel treated them unfairly.
Don’t be one of these businesses, and your review strategy is 95% complete.