Positive online reviews from customers help small businesses stand out, and generally give business owners a feel good factor. But a recent survey released by online services marketplace, ServiceSeeking, reveals just how badly negative reviews sting.
The May survey of more than 2,000 users of the site showed that 82% of consumers check a business’s reviews before deciding to hire it. Businesses that have built up significant online feedback and have copped one or two negative reviews will see their client win rates decline by only 0.45%.
Small businesses that score four stars or less on average win half as many new clients as businesses that received more than a four-star rating. However, businesses with less than three stars attract 88% fewer clients than those with more than three stars.
Managing bad reviews
Positive customer reviews can build a business; negative ones can break it. ServiceSeeking offers some tips on how one should deal with negative reviews:
- Look for patterns - Take a closer look at issues that have been consistently generating complaints from customers
- For isolated incidents - Say sorry to the customer, and invite him or her to talk about the situation over the phone or via email
- Let your customers know how much you value reviews - Invite customers to leave reviews on relevant sites or on social media, and consider offering incentives to customers who choose to leave a review, whether it’s good or bad
The best way to deal with a negative review is to respond directly. Business owners and operators directly respond to over 87% of negative reviews, while only 5% of grumbles will receive a reply from a designated office manager, according to the survey. However, the big no-no is the finding that almost 8% of bad reviews are completely ignored by business owners.
An opportunity to win customers
Public criticisms may cause anger or distress, but they’re not always a bad thing. According to the survey, a few unpleasant reviews mixed with a long list of positive ones will provide a sense of authenticity. And the best thing about bad reviews is that they provide business owners and operators a chance to respond in a way that will win customers over.
“Accepting mistakes and putting customers first is an important first step in creating a successful small business. And building up your reviews can result in a lot of extra revenue,” ServiceSeeking CEO Jeremy Levitt said in a statement.
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