Help! Negative Reviews Are Killing My Business

We’ve all heard the adage that one dissatisfied customer will tell 7-12 friends. However, with the invention of the internet, social media platforms, and simplistic Google searches, that one person can now tell hundreds or thousands. A potential customer can simply type your company’s name into Google and instantly obtain customer reviews and ratings.

With resources available to compare not only prices, but also customer reviews and ratings, the internet makes it very easy for customers to choose the company they will do business with. Google search makes it easy to read reviews on anything from the local electronics store to local nail salons to doctor’s offices. You can bet that if you own a business, chances are there are ratings and reviews for it on the internet.

Typical reviews generally include an eye-catching review title. For example, if you have a dissatisfied customer, you may see something such as “Wouldn’t recommend this company to my worst enemy.” The reviewer will then have a certain amount of space to clearly explain the problem and the resolution (if any). Some websites allow for unlimited space, while on other sites an aggravated customer may use up to 1,000 words to clearly describe your company’s shortcomings.

However, the clincher is generally the “star” ratings. Complainants can usually rate your company on a scale of 1-5 stars. If you don’t believe that these ratings directly affect your business, think again. Do a Google search on a popular company, and beside some review listings you may notice the average “star” rating. Most people will not take the time to read the complaints or reviews to determine if they are reasonable. It doesn’t matter if the customer is describing an experience that was beyond your control, that 1 star rating just cost you several customers.

How exactly does this affect your company? According to Lee Resource Inc., it takes 12 positive customer service experiences to make up for each negative one. With the broad exposure that one negative review has on the internet, it can easily be concluded that it would take more than 12 positive experiences to make up for a well-written negative complaint from an irate customer.

What is driving customers to voice their complaints whether by word of mouth or online? A study conducted by RightNow concluded that 85% of customers wanted to warn others about the disadvantages of doing business with the company, while 66% wanted to discourage others from even doing business with them. 55% also wanted to just vent their frustration, while 24% wanted to see if the company would take action and remedy the wrong. These alarming statistics show that customers are creating their reviews or voicing their concerns with other potential customers in mind.

While a lot of these complaints may address a defect or quality issue with a product or service, a majority of these reviewers simply attribute their anger and frustration with poor customer service. In fact, in a survey conducted by MasterCard, 80% of restaurant complaints are due to poor service, not the quality of the meal. Of those surveyed, 23% state that they will never return to the restaurant where they received poor service.

You may deliver an outstanding product or serve the best food around, but if your customer service representatives are not treating your customers well, you will lose business. Lost business means decreased profits, which in turn could mean layoffs or closures.

So, how can you ensure that the all of the reviews are positive? While you can’t guarantee that 100% of your customers are going to be satisfied 100% of the time, you should strive to offer a high quality product teamed up with superior customer service representatives, staff, cashiers, employees, etc. Each employee, from the greeter at the front door to the customer service representative in the complaint center, directly affects customer retention. Hiring well qualified employees that are dedicated to ensuring customer satisfaction is a great start. Make sure that the employees are adequately trained to understand and explain products, procedures, policies, etc. to your customers.

Because the internet has made it so unbelievably easy for your potential customers to jump online and make a decision in a matter of seconds, you must take customer service very seriously. Don’t just meet your customer’s expectations. Go above and beyond to ensure that you receive 5 star ratings. It has been my experience that satisfied customers are more than willing to write satisfactory reviews on your company. In fact, an outstanding experience is sure to leave an impression on the customer, who will be thrilled to recommend the company.

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