5 tips for handling negative online reviews

|  December 22, 2016
Photo: ©iStock.com/PashaIgnatov

Photo: ©iStock.com/PashaIgnatov

As a pest management professional (PMP) who is in business to serve the public, you may wonder whether you have any control over the reviews your customers post online about you and your company. Fortunately, you do — if you are proactive.

It’s important to take action before and after a customer posts a negative review. Remember when unsatisfied customers called you on the phone to complain? You didn’t ignore them, did you? You responded immediately to ensure they remained your customers. But in the digital age, you’re not the only person who hears their complaint. That’s why you have to act fast.

Here are five tips for handling online negative reviews.

  1. Pay attention to online reviews. “Having the ability to tell your side of the story and respond when negative online reviews pop up can show consumers you care about customers that may have had a bad experience with your company,” says Caleb Tennenbaum, founder of Tucson, Ariz.-based Marketing for the Future and a second-generation PMP. “Also, it’s important to respond to positive reviews to reinforce the good reputation your company has been built on over the years.”
  2. Head off negative reviews with a follow-up call. Calling customers the day after you service the account can help reduce the chances of a negative online review. It shows you care that the work was done to your customer’s satisfaction. “You can minimize the chances of a bad review by following up, following up, and following up,” Tennenbaum quips. “I recommend a one-day follow-up call after initial services, along with a mailed survey 14 days later.” Sending your customer a survey via phone, email or mail every 30-90 days after the initial service call helps ensure you hear about a problem before the rest of the world, he adds.
  3. Ask all your customers to write online reviews. The more positive reviews you have, the less effect the negative reviews will have on your business. To gain feedback before a customer has a chance to take a grievance online, consider leaving a review card with customers, sending surveys, or using social media to encourage customers to review the service they received. Requiring techs to ask their regular customers for reviews works, too. “If you can come up with a short script for your techs to recite to their longtime customers, your reviews can grow exponentially,” Tennenbaum says.
  4. If you resolved a complaint, ask the customer to amend or remove the review. Call the customer and ask whether there’s anything else you can do to get him or her to change or remove the post. Many customers simply forget and will gladly delete their negative review when they receive a friendly reminder from you. If that doesn’t work, Tennenbaum suggests reminding the customer of their agreement to take down the review once you solved their problem.
  5. Share all your reviews with your employees. Learn from the feedback your customers provide. Reviews — good and bad — are an effective training tool. Consider offering a bonus or other perk to employees whose work generates positive reviews. (Editor’s Note: See “Put pride into the program” for an example.)

Managing Editor Diane Sofranec can be reached at dsofranec@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3793.

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