eCommerce Insiders

Bad Reviews and You: How to Handle Them in a Winning Fashion

Bad reviews. They suck, and for many business owners, they can suck the life out of any motivation to cheerfully offer customers the best products or services possible.

In an e-retailer dreamland where unicorns roam, and rainbows and blue skies are abound, retailers would generate hand-over-fist sales, with little-to-no marketing required.

Customers would not only love everything they’ve purchased, but they would also feel absolutely enamored with their shopping experience. There would be no need for a customer service department to handle complaints, queries, or even, compliments-everyone who made a purchase on the retailer’s site would feel over-the-moon.

They’d certainly never complain about your fulfillment or delivery process, and they’d breathlessly recommend your website to everyone with a pulse!

But of course, retailers like you operate in a state of being commonly known as the real world. In the real world, customers experience dissatisfaction. Sometimes their dissatisfaction is their own experience, but sometimes, the dissatisfaction rests with the retailer–that’s you!

Worse, retailers like you who operate in the 21st century have to worry about being exposed swiftly (and sharply) when you or your team have made a mistake. Social media platforms have removed lagging gaps of communication between consumers and companies.

Today’s consumers refuse to be ignored, and when they experience the even the smallest slight to their sensibilities as consumers, they’re not afraid to use social media or product rating sites to voice their displeasure, and unhappiness.

And although you’ve heard of the saying, “It’s business, not personal,” if you’re the retailer who received a poor rating or review, then you’re apt to take the negative vote personally, for the following reasons:

1. The reviewer’s opinion is often believed by others.

Here’s a fact about today’s shopping habits: According to a source quoted by Practical eCommerce, up to 88 percent of online shoppers read reviews about a product or a business before making a buying decision.

The reason is simple-shoppers want to learn about the product or buying experience of others before making a final decision. It’s all about the power of the testimonial!

And as another saying goes, “Perception is the truth.”

It’s hard for you as a business owner to sit back helplessly while some faceless person has the power to cut into your revenue margins simply because they shared their negative perception about your company with others!

2. Lower stars/ratings can hurt your page ranking.

Needless to say, if your company’s site is weighed down with complaints and low rankings, then Google (and the like) isn’t going to reward your site link with a high placement in the search engine queries, making your site link much harder to find during a query search.

But it could also affect you if your site is linked on an aggregate site, such as a travel site.

Practical eCommerce reported about a tourist destination operator in New Orleans who experienced a three-point drop in listing position on a travel site, due to one bad review. The operator complained that the three-point drop made a difference because it allowed his competitor’s website links to be found before his.

You might have experienced something similar-perhaps you were also at the number four position on the page results, but you’ve dropped down to number seven on the page.

If a site visitor wants to decide between the top four or five destinations to visit, then everyone under the fourth or fifth position will be ignored! If you were the operator, then you might empathize with how a bad revue could cost you to lose tour bookings, too.

3. Some online reviewers are spiteful.

No one will ever know how hard you’ve worked to start your business, and they’ll never know the personal and financial sacrifices you’ve had to make in order to attempt to make your business a success.

And the fact is, it’s not the customer’s responsibility to know what goes on behind the scenes, but it would sure be nice if they could offer you respect and appreciation in the ratings, right?

These are the reasons why it burns you when someone writes a poor review out of spite.

4. You can’t see the silver lining in a bad review.

This point is a wonderful segue into how you could handle the poor reviews in a winning manner.

First, understand that in most cases, reviewers aren’t out to destroy your business, or your livelihood. They’re not purposefully trying to take food out of your children’s mouths!

What reviewers are doing is pointing to areas of your business process that need repairing. You won’t need to conduct surveys or operate in a clueless daze-your poor reviews will offer you crystal-clear guidance on things that need to be fixed.

And conversely, positive reviews show you exactly what’s working, and what needs to continue.

With this said, take the reviews in stride, and never attempt to stifle the reviewer’s ability to offer honest, unvarnished, yet fair testimonials of your product or service.

You could try to silence them in court, but it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll come away looking like a bully, your business name will appear in national news outlets, future customers will run away from you, and maybe most important, you’ll never learn from your mistakes!

Terri Scott

Terri is a content marketing storyteller and strategist. She teaches marketing and entrepreneurship through stories for marketers of all stripes. Her specialty is creating narrative and she writes essays and memoir in her spare time.

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