So, You Got a Bad Google Review… Now What?

So, You Got a Bad Google Review… Now What?

You pour your heart and soul into your small business. You strive to deliver exceptional service and top-notch products, only to be met with a scathing one-star review on Google. It stings, doesn’t it? But don’t let it get you down; there are ways to handle negative reviews and turn the situation around.

First, take a step back and consider your options for responding. Remember, the way you handle this type of situation can make a significant difference in how your business is perceived by potential customers. Instead of focusing on the negative feedback, view it as a chance to demonstrate your professionalism and dedication to customer satisfaction.

How to Handle Negative Reviews Like a Pro

While negative reviews are inevitable, especially in the age of online transparency, how you manage them can make a world of difference. Here’s a battle plan to navigate this tricky situation:

#1. Take a deep breath. Reacting impulsively will only cloud your judgment. Next, carefully read and analyze the negative review. Is it legitimate or an internet troll? If the person is real and was a customer, try to understand the customer’s perspective and identify any valid points they may have raised. Once you have a clear understanding of the situation, respond promptly and professionally. Acknowledge the customer’s concerns, apologize for any inconvenience caused, and offer a solution or compensation if appropriate.

#2. Keep in mind that your response is not just for the unhappy customer but for potential customers who may be reading as well. Handling the situation with kindness and understanding can transform a negative experience into a positive one, highlighting your commitment to exceptional customer service.

#3. Also, before responding, check if this reviewer has left reviews before. Look for patterns in their other reviews, such as common complaints or recurring themes. Multiple negative reviews on different businesses’ profiles could mean the reviewer is a chronic complainer, rather than reflecting on your service. Consider all factors carefully before giving too much weight to their feedback.

Not All Reviews Are Created Equal

Factors such as the nature of negative reviews and their validity can influence their impact. Google employs specific guidelines to identify and flag reviews that violate its policies. Content that can be reported includes:

  • Off-topic: Review doesn’t pertain to an experience at or with this business
  • Spam: Review is from a bot, a fake account, or contains ads and promotions
  • Conflict of interest: Review is from someone affiliated with the business or a competitor’s business
  • Profanity: Review contains swear words, has sexually explicit language, or details graphic violence or other illegal activity
  • Bullying or Harassment: Review personally attacks a specific individual
  • Discrimination or hate speech: Review has harmful language about an individual or group based on identity
  • Personal Information: Contains personal information such as address or phone number

Source: Google Review Report

If a review fits these categories, the reporting process is straightforward:

#1. Head to your Google Business Profile.

#2. Find the specific review and click the three dots next to “Reply.”

#3. Select “Report Review.”

#4. Choose the reason for reporting and provide a brief explanation (optional).

Remember: Google may not always remove flagged reviews, so before reporting one, consider responding to the review professionally to address the concerns raised.

Addressing Valid Complaints with Care

There may occasionally be situations where the review points out a genuine issue. When the customer’s concerns seem somewhat justified, you’ll want to take a different approach. Here are a few strategies for responding to unhappy (but reasonable) reviews:

#1. Respond directly by acknowledging their frustration, apologizing for the inconvenience, and offering a resolution or compensation if appropriate.

#2. Express empathy by acknowledging the customer’s feelings, showing understanding of their perspective, and reassuring them that their feedback is valued.

#3. Offer solutions by explaining the steps taken to address any mistakes, outlining preventive measures to avoid similar issues in the future, and inviting the customer to reach out for further help.

#4. For complex issues, consider moving the conversation offline by suggesting a phone call or email to discuss the situation further and offer personalized assistance.

Why You Need a Google Business Profile

Having a Google Business Profile is crucial for increasing visibility, accessing analytics, and connecting with customers. Taking control of and managing your profile directly affects your business’s visibility in Google searches, attracting increased traffic and potential customers.

It also allows you to respond to customer reviews and engage with your audience directly. By actively managing your Google Business Profile, you can address any negative feedback promptly and demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction. Additionally, regularly updating your profile with accurate information and engaging content can help improve your search ranking and attract more organic traffic to your website. Taking the time to optimize your Google Business Profile can have a significant impact on your online presence and overall business success.

To optimize your Google Business Profile effectively, update your hours of operation, upload high-quality images showcasing your products or services, and respond promptly and professionally to all customer reviews. Regularly monitoring and updating your Google Business Profile ensures that potential customers have access to current information about your business.

Stay connected with your audience by regularly updating your profile with the latest promotions, upcoming events, and any changes to your business to keep customers informed, engaged, and connected with your brand. This not only helps improve your search engine visibility but also builds trust with your audience.

Remember, your online reputation can greatly influence the success of your business, so investing time and effort into optimizing your Google Business Profile is well worth it in the long run. Don’t underestimate the power of a strong online presence in today’s digital age.

Over to You

Above all, keep in mind that a negative review should not define your business. By responding professionally and using your Google Business Profile effectively, you can showcase your commitment to customer satisfaction.

So, the next time you receive an unjustified negative review, remember there’s no need to panic. Instead, ask yourself: How can I use this experience to improve my customer service and strengthen my online presence?

Customer Retention Strategies: Fostering Loyalty and Repeat Business

Customer Retention Strategies: Fostering Loyalty and Repeat Business

As a business owner, you probably already know that acquiring new clients is essential, but retaining your current clientele is equally important — if not more so. As such, customer retention strategies are a must-have for fostering loyalty and ensuring repeat business.

By focusing on building solid relationships with existing customers, organizations can enjoy benefits such as continued support and referrals. Before discussing ways to enhance customer loyalty and increase the likelihood of repeat business, it’s a good idea to recognize the value of nurturing relationships with your current customers.

Understanding the Significance of Customer Retention

Customer retention refers to keeping existing customers engaged and satisfied to ensure they continue to choose your products or services over those of your competitors.

There are several reasons why customer retention is crucial for business success. First, retaining existing customers is more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. It is estimated that acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than sustaining an existing one.

Secondly, loyal customers are more likely to recommend your brand to others, leading to positive word-of-mouth marketing and potential new customers. Additionally, customer retention allows businesses to build long-term relationships with their customers, which leads to increased trust and loyalty over time.

Effective Customer Retention Strategies

In this ever-changing landscape of doing business, where customer choices abound, implementing effective customer retention strategies is the cornerstone of building enduring relationships and fostering unwavering loyalty. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started:

#1. Personalized Communication: Remember – customers are real people and should be treated as individuals rather than account numbers. Send tailored emails, offers, and suggestions based on their preferences and previous interactions.

#2. Exceptional Customer Service: Quick and courteous customer service goes a long way. Respond to issues and inquiries as soon as possible. This is a perfect way to show customers how much you respect their time and concerns.

#3. Loyalty Programs: Implement loyalty programs that reward customers for their repeat business. These can include discounts, exclusive offers, or even a points-based system that leads to special perks.

#4. Regular Engagement: Stay connected with your customers through various channels, such as social media, newsletters, and blogs. Provide valuable content that keeps them informed and engaged.

#5. Quality Products and Services: The foundation of customer retention is delivering consistent quality. Your products/services should meet or exceed customer expectations, ensuring their satisfaction.

#6. Feedback and Improvement: Seek out client input and use it to improve your offers. Customers will feel more connected to your brand if they perceive that their ideas are acknowledged and contribute to improvements.

#7. “Surprise and Delight”: Consider surprising your customers with unexpected incentives or presents every so often. Doing so can foster a favourable emotional connection and make them feel valued.

#8. Community Building: Create a sense of belonging by building a community around your brand. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, such as social media groups, online forums, or even in-person events that bring your customers together.

#9. Stay Relevant: Keep a watchful eye on what is trending within your industry. Then, be sure to consistently adapt your products or services to satisfy the ever-changing requirements of your customers. Providing them with what they need – when they need it – will go a long way toward developing their loyalty and repeat business.

Over to you

As you can see, achieving and maintaining customer retention is a cornerstone of business success. Even better? It’s fairly easy to foster loyalty, encourage repeat business, and turn satisfied customers into brand advocates. Remember that in the long run, it’s not just about making sales; it’s about building meaningful relationships that stand the test of time.

Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger

Social Media Etiquette For Business

Social Media Etiquette For Business

Social media is all about interacting with others, especially as a business. Your goals should include engaging with customers, building relationships, and staying at the forefront of their minds. That is how you achieve repeat and referral business. Using proper social media etiquette is just as important as the other elements of content creation and engagement. Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to acing social media etiquette.

Separate Your Personal and Business Accounts

Most people primarily use social media to stay in touch with friends and family. Of course, many businesses use social media to raise brand awareness, drive traffic to their websites, and even generate sales. Perhaps you find it annoying when friends use their personal accounts to promote their businesses. By running separate accounts for your business, you are respecting your friends who are only interested in what’s going on with you. On the other hand, using your business account for personal use could make your company appear unprofessional.

Avoid Misrepresenting Your Company

There are many good reasons for a business to establish a positive social media presence, such as reputation management, growing a base of devoted customers, and gathering feedback. However, it is critical that you represent your company openly and honestly online to build trust with your audience. Even seemingly minor embellishments to make your company appear better can cast significant doubt on the overall integrity of your business.

Respond Mindfully

It makes sense that you may get annoyed if someone disrespects your business or leaves a negative review on your social media channels. But keep in mind that you are speaking for your organization before you react and respond. An explosive or negative response could give prospective clients an unfavourable impression of your business. Before responding, take some time to collect your thoughts. Remember to be as gracious and kind as you can when handling critical feedback. Making that extra effort helps to build and maintain trust with current and prospective customers.

Refrain From Sharing Too Many Posts

Regardless of your social media goals, delivering value to your audience should be top of the list. Some businesses make the error of thinking what is valuable to them is also valuable to their audience. As a result, they exclusively use their social media platforms for advertising and sales. Being informative versus annoying is key.

It matters how frequently you publish on social media, and your profiles may be affected in various ways depending on how often you share posts.

Neil Patel states it well in an article from Forbes:

“If you post too infrequently, your audience will forget that you exist and you will quickly fade into the deep dark recesses of their minds. However, if you are posting too often, you will become a complete nuisance and they will dread seeing your posts overcrowding their feed.”

Always Review Your Posts for Grammar and Spelling

This past April, we explored the topic of grammar in our blog post, “Grammar & Brand Messaging for Your Business.” We mentioned that improper grammar can completely affect the interpretation of what you are trying to communicate. In other words, your company’s overall message is at risk of being confusing and even completely misunderstood. Because business social media accounts are public, many more people can see any mistakes. Simply double-checking a post before you send it out can save you a lot of embarrassment!

Over To You

We hope these pointers will enable you to engage in more fulfilling social media interactions. Are there any you would add? Please keep in mind that if you need help creating and managing social media for your business, we are available to help.

Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger

Talk to Human!

Talk to Human!

Have you noticed that a lot of businesses are willing to engage through online channels yet fail to provide any phone support these days? All too often, the online chat supports those businesses offer are auto-generated generic answers that are less-than-helpful. Let’s say you’re unable to log into one of your social media networks, either because you’ve been locked out or because the platform is down. Having the option to speak with a live person and resolve the issue over the phone would be helpful, right?

Research shows why people are becoming increasingly frustrated with online support:

  • 55% of customer requests for service on social media are not acknowledged.
  • 72% of Facebook interactions are never completed, in any channel.

Source: Huffington Post (https://www.huffpost.com/entry/50-important-customer-exp_b_8295772)

Why going back to the basics to develop relationships can humanize your business?

In the long run, the ability to humanize your business through live phone support can certainly help your company stand out from the crowd. Human nature dictates that people prefer to do business with real people rather than logos and bots. And although face-to-face meetings and phone calls were once the norm for business representatives, artificial intelligence (AI), email and social media have contributed to a decline in personal human interactions over the last decade or so.

As well, too many companies are overlooking a key aspect when prioritizing the digital experience: talking on the phone with a real person is faster, easier, and more effective than typing messages back and forth. It may seem old-fashioned, but in reality, most people still want to talk to a knowledgeable human being – especially when they have customer service issues or are making major purchasing decisions.

Businesses may be losing potential revenue by hiding their phone numbers and making it nearly impossible to reach a live person. Customers who are irritated have little patience for automated support, and even those who aren’t irritated will notice when your company interacts with a human touch. However, savvy business owners understand that relationships are the true currency of business. And, amongst the rise of AI, humans now have the advantage of offering something unique and compelling to customers.

Ready to provide a “Talk to Human” option? Proper phone etiquette will go a long way

If you are ready for your business to be more “human” again but haven’t picked up the phone in a while, then you may need to brush up on your phone skills. Having a repertoire of good customer service terms on hand will help you communicate with your current and potential customers more effectively.

Here are a few impactful customer service phrases to consider:

#1. “Thank you for bringing this to our attention.”

In fact, the customer who reports the flaw is actually assisting your company with quality control. In these cases, the very least your company can do is express gratitude through this simple phrase. Being courteous does not cost you anything. It is important to be genuine with this as people are smart and can detect if you’re being insincere.

#2. “I will look into this for you.”

Even when you are unsure of the outcome, it is essential that you express a willingness to find the answer. Because one of your goals is to boost your customers’ trust in your brand, this helps demonstrate to them that you’re a professional who gets things done.

#3. “I apologize for the inconvenience.”

If a customer is dissatisfied, it is critical to demonstrate empathy, validate their complaint and let them know that you understand their concerns. Apologizing to a dissatisfied customer and admitting the error is preferable to making excuses.

Source: Qminder (https://www.qminder.com/blog/customer-service/customer-service-phrases/)

Over to you

At the end of the day, it is important to provide your customers with as many contact channels as you can effectively manage. Consider having a “talk to human” as one of those options; it will likely result in a positive experience for both sides!

Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger

The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword

The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword

“Beneath the rule of men entirely great,
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold
The arch-enchanter’s wand — itself a nothing,
But taking sorcery from the master-hand
To paralyze the Caesars, and to strike
The loud earth breathless! Take away the sword,
States can be saved without it!” 

– Edward Bulwer-Lytton, novelist, and playwright

Have you noticed that nearly everyone has something to say these days—especially online? It’s not your imagination! People have become increasingly emboldened by having the opportunity to use social media as an outlet for their individual voices. Most of the time, people use their social media platforms to share positive, funny, and uplifting messages, whether their own thoughts, or through memes. Unfortunately, on the flip side, we see more than our fair share of negative messages as well. In either case, once something is said on the internet, it can exist indefinitely… there is no going back.

In one of our recent blog posts, “Service for the Customer,” we addressed the importance of providing excellent customer service as one way to avoid receiving negative reviews online. However, you will always have at least one disgruntled individual who has no qualms about letting you know how unhappy they are — either on your social media platforms, within your blog comments, online review sites, etc. – nor will they hesitate to make their feelings known to the public.

Along with the opportunity and easy access to do so, each of us has the power to use words, both positive and negative, to express ourselves. So, what’s a business to do? Here are a few ways you can “sharpen your own sword,” so to speak, and make your words – and those of your audience – matter.

Acknowledge ALL comments

Although it’s tempting to simply ignore or delete the negative comments, it could end up being one of the worst things you do as a business. For one thing, it will give an unhappy individual yet another excuse to continue negativity towards your business. Every comment, whether positive, negative, or neutral, should be responded to since doing so helps you better connect with your followers by opening the lines of communication.

For customer service purposes, every negative review provides an opportunity to turn the situation around for a win! It’s not always easy, but it’s important to always be polite and professional when communicating online with your followers. Avoid swear words, even if they’re using them. Be mindful of your loyal customers; if they happen to see you being rude to others, it may affect their opinion of your company as well as their decision to continue doing business with you.

Note: Spam and vulgar or offensive comments are definitely exceptions and should be reported and deleted.

Own it!

Mistakes can happen in any organization. Quite frequently, brands are called out by their audiences for what may seem to be a minor error, such as a typo or misspelling. However, there are times where a major blunder could occur unintentionally, such as internet controversies, offensive posts, inappropriately timed posts – perhaps due to prescheduling – or engaging in an online argument with an individual that goes sideways.

Regardless of whether the blunder is tiny or gigantic, the first step to take as business owner is to apologize. Even if you disagree with the individual, saying, “We are very sorry,” goes a long way to start the process of resolving or avoiding further conflict. The damage is done, so attempting to cover up or ignore the mistake will only make the situation worse for your business. Instead, immediately accept responsibility and take ownership for your error with a public online apology. When issuing your public apology, make sure you are sincere. Most people can tell the difference between a fake one that translates to an ‘Oops! We got caught!’, and a genuine, heartfelt sentiment. Your audience will appreciate your honesty.

Obtain positive feedback and customer testimonials

One of the most effective ways to reduce impact of a bad comment on your company image is through earning positive reviews, which will far outweigh the negative ones! If you’re not sure how to ask for feedback from your customers, HubSpot offers a few tips to help you get started:

1. Ask the customer in person.
2. Leverage moments of customer happiness.
3. Begin with an open-ended question.

How will you use your words today?

Taking the time to share kind words online, such as a recommendation for a local business or nominating someone for an award, can be powerful and even life-changing for them. This makes the metaphorical pen very mighty indeed. Which takes us back to the famous saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” According to one interpretation, writing is a more powerful tool than violence, and a pen can accomplish far more than a sword. It implies that the power of writing is timeless, whereas the sword’s power is fleeting. Our words have power, so we should always consider using them in a positive way and on a regular basis.

Is Your Online Window Display Fresh?

Is Your Online Window Display Fresh?

In this digital age, having a website for your company is essential. However, keeping your website and its content up to date is equally important. Your website is, without a doubt, a representation of your company. In fact, it may be the only part of it that some people see. As such, keeping your site updated and relevant will go a long way toward generating a positive impression on both current and potential customers.

Here are a few reasons to keep your website up to date:

  1. Your website can help your business generate revenue, increase brand recall value, promote goodwill among clients and target audiences, plus deliver powerful marketing messages around the clock, 365 days a year!
  2. Keeping your website’s material current contributes to the development of relationships between you and your customers, which ultimately helps to build trust and credibility in your company. Customers are most likely looking to your site for relevant information that helps them stay in-the-know.
  3. Customers are likely to feel comfortable using your services when your company has a high-quality website. Plus, your website can help its visitors feel confident that they will have a positive experience in all aspects of your business.
  4. Because search engines like Google place a strong emphasis on local results, having a website is even more important if you are a local business. More people are using the internet to find local businesses than ever before so if you don’t have a website, they may be unable to contact or locate your company.
  5. When your company has an updated website, you will have an increased ability to communicate with customers in real time. This is especially true when your website’s content and social media are integrated. Your social media pages all work together to increase your website traffic and boost revenue.
  6. The ability to attract new customers is one of the most compelling reasons to invest in updating your website. Since the visitors to your site will be at various stages of the sales process, including researchers, comparers, and buyers, you’ll want to make sure you have offerings for them all. The goal is to convert website visitors into leads, so speaking to their needs and providing them with a clear action plan to take the next steps will help make the process smoother.

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