Thursday, 9 January 2014

Waseem Saddique Marketing: Tips for Approaching Customer Review Websites

Waseem Saddique Marketing offers an insight into tackling critical comments posted on online review sites and public forums.

Waseem Saddique comments: “A common question that gets asked by a number of business people I work with is ‘review sites Waseem, are they worth the hassle?’ The use of review sites and online forums splits opinion among business leaders and many myths exist when it comes to review sites, some of which need to be addressed.”

The majority of business leaders are used to ‘being in control’ when it comes to the reputation of their company. Blogs allow for comments to be moderated, control of social media profiles mean that critical comments can be erased, but what of those elements that businesses have no control over?

As an overall, worldwide figure, 80% of people rely on online reviews in the decision-making process (source: Review Tracker). This percentage varies country-by-country, for instance in Turkey 92% of consumers agree that online reviews influence the decision-making process when it comes to purchasing goods or services however, the global average is 80%.

Review sites such as Yelp, Trustpilot, eKomi, Review Centre and a whole plethora of others, represent massive databases of consumer opinion. They are interactive, allowing consumers to rate products, services and companies and they allow for comments to be left, whether critical or commending.

Bad Reviews    

Every business bemoans bad reviews, immediately leading them to get on the defensive and spout excuses that it’s competitors trying to tarnish the name, a former employee mouthing off, or a customer that will just not listen to reason. However, sometimes it is a genuine customer actually offering constructive criticism.

Reviews offer a great platform for advertising and exposure however, a proportion of companies won’t utilise them because they want all the glitz and glamour of glowing endorsements, but fear critical comments. However, critical comments can actually prove to 
be useful for helping a company to improve, learn and grow.

Waseem Saddique comments: “There’s nothing more satisfying for a business than winning over the critics, if you can convert a critical customer into a satisfied customer it’s a sure-fire indicator that your business is heading in the right direction.” 

Here are some tips from Waseem Saddique Marketing for dealing with bad reviews:

1. Avoid becoming defensive: Whilst initial instinct may lead you down this route, combating negativity with negativity results in one thing, more negativity. Defensiveness delivers destruction. Above all else, proactive steps should be taken to deliver a solution as swiftly as possible. Apologise to the customer and realise that in their opinion they have suffered a bad experience, diffuse the situation and take steps to appease them.

2. Respond swiftly: If a negative experience is swiftly resolved, 90% of the time, consumers will return to a negative review and alter their status and opinion. This is a sure-fire way to endear your business to other potential customers and retain a current customer.

3. Remain discreet: Don’t become embroiled in heated exchanges on a public forum, it will do you no favours. Approach customers who have had a bad experience on a private platform, for example a private message, e-mail or telephone call. Take the time to show that you take their grievance ‘personally’ and give the customer the respect of acknowledging the grievance in an amicable manner. This is more likely to lead to a better outcome for both parties.

4. Don’t ignore bad reviews: It could prove far more costly to ignore reviews than to tackle them head on. In retrospect a few ‘bad reviews’ will have little impact, but a few bad reviews unanswered could encourage more customers to air their negative experience of your business. The great thing about review sites and public forums is that it gives service providers the opportunity to address criticism. That opportunity should be grasped; it shows the customer that you care about their cause and that you want to resolve it.

5. Encourage reviews: Even if the reviews are critical, encourage them. An open dialogue and transparency is much more appealing to customers. Sometimes your response will be enough to see negative reviews retracted. A willingness to engage with the critics, rather than remain silent, is proven to lead to a much more positive outcome in 79% of customer complaint cases posted on review sites (source: Review Tracker).