How to handle a bad online review

August 1, 2014

“You are the worst Yelper ever!” Have you ever wanted to reply to a user review with those words? I’m sure you have. Well, I do, and it feels great! It often is the most helpful and appropriate response you could make.

“You are the worst Yelper ever!” Have you ever wanted to reply to a user review with those words? I’m sure you have. Well, I do, and it feels great! It often is the most helpful and appropriate response you could make.

Let’s face it, there are just some bad apples in the bunch. If they were great Yelpers, they would have never selected your office in the first place. In an age where people are reviewing everything from their liquor store to their eye doctor, people can (and should) research a spot ahead of time to determine if that place is what they are looking for.

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Review sites are abundant, and they are best used to find the ideal spot you are looking for. They are worst used as a forum to post a rant about a business the reviewer should have not been to in the first place. We have the opportunity to educate the public about this, and we should do so when given the opportunity. This will help ensure that the people who are best matched for your office end up in your exam chair.

Service breakdown or bad match?

Dr. Bazan responds to a patient who complained about his staff members, saying they seemed incompetent.

There are basically on two types of negative reviews: one in which you had a service breakdown, and one in which the reviewer is just a bad match. These service breakdown reviews are easy to handle. Simply apologize, own up to it, rectify the situation, make amends, and then do something extra and unexpected to make up for it. Everyone is largely in agreement on how to handle those types of negative reviews. These also represent only a very small percentage of negative reviews.

Where people often get things twisted is on the instances in which you are providing the experience you want to provide, but the person is expecting something else. Here is where most business owners try to apply the service-breakdown resolution-which is not the way to go because it sets you up for continued failure. The bulk of the negative reviews are cases in which the patient’s expectations were not in alignment with the experience you provide. Most often, the person isn’t a good match for the business. Let’s take a closer look at how to handle this bad apple-type of review.

Next: Replying to a negative review

 

Replying to a negative review

Consider sticking to the five Rs of replying to a negative review:

1. Recognize the opportunity. The truth is there really isn't such a thing as a negative review. Every review you get is merely an opportunity to let the world know where you stand and how you do things. Often, this is just way more apparent with the one-star reviews. The more people sharing their experiences, the better, and the more people reading your replies, the better. In a world where people are online doing their research, you want to have a strong presence, and you want people to be able to know what experience you are going to provide them. It’s a beautiful thing when the person reads about the experience you provide and thinks to them himself “Wow, I have to go there!” or “Wow, I would never go there.” That will keep those best matched for your office coming in and those who are best matched elsewhere out. It’s a beautiful thing having a schedule full of people who are there because they want to experience what they read about. It’s a beautiful thing having people who are already in alignment with you on how you do things. The reality is those negative reviews may be the best thing for you.

Dr. Bazan keeps his cool and responds rationally. 2. Be rational. Most people get upset and irrational. Business owners often want to please everyone and ensure that, no matter who you are, you have the most awesome experience. It takes time to learn that instead of trying to please everyone, you should focus on doing the things you love to do and do those things the best. Until that realization occurs, the emotional response to a person having a bad experience often kicks in, and the reply to the review reflects that. We often reply when emotions are charged and might just feel differently if we had time to process. Negative energy blocks creative thinking. Simply sleep on your response. Even consider asking around. My best replies often start in emotion but are reworked the next day before posting.

3. Respond.You must reply. How do you feel when you come across a business with tons of people expressing their displeasure, yet the business has not made a single reply? Most people are going to think the business couldn’t care less. Not replying is one of the worst things you can do. If you don't, people are going to think you don't care or are a pushover. Both of those things are detrimental to any chance of continued success and happiness. Nearly every user review site allows the business owner to reply. This is your chance to review the reviewer. This is your chance to show you care. This is your chance to set the record straight. This is your chance to let people know what kind of experience you love to deliver.

Next: Dr. Bazan says keep it real

 

4. Keep it real. For consistency, it’s imperative that you use the same persona of your brand online as you have offline. The style I write with is “Brooklyn,” and it is the same way I say things in person. It’s important you do the same because the authenticity needs to be there. When you keep things real, you can never go wrong. The best experiences come when there is a consistency between the online research and the real-world experience. The worst is when there is a mismatch.

An example of a negative review Park Slope Eye received on Yelp.  

Dr. Bazan responds by keeping it real.

5. Repost. If you have been paying attention, you know that all reviews are awesome and should be broadcast on blast (via Facebook, Twitter, e-newsletter, etc.). It will be hard at first to pump the negative reviews into your social media channels, but now that you have your best response attached to it, things will be OK. In fact, they will turn out for the best. You have an incredible network of supporters out there. I’ve seen that our most popular Facebook posts are often "Check out our latest 1 star review!” Why? Because it rallies the troops. Your network of advocates snaps into action. It spreads the word and gets your message out there. People love to read the negative reviews. They are your best opportunity to attract like-minded individual and repel those in opposition.

No doubt this represent a departure from old-school standards. However, times have changed, and the way in which people interact is evolving, too. Customer service is not customer butt kissing. The day and age of “The customer is always right” is over. To be successful in this new era, we have to keep the following points in mind.

• The ability for people to conduct research before patronizing a business has changed the game forever.

• The ability for user reviews and owner replies has help to provide equality on all fronts and-this allows for the best possible matches between those two parties to occur.

For a recent example of how this all comes together visit these two URLs: http://www.yelp.com/biz/park-slope-eye-brooklyn-2?hrid=W0ioYs9Pfc_RG_9D3n_yyg and https://www.facebook.com/ParkSlopeEye/posts/10152215676061033.

I know you have some comments-please share them!ODT

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