Well, you have been found out.
Your business is not perfect. You're human, after all, and nobody's perfect. I know you wanted to keep that pristine 5 star rating but guess what? This is not the end of the world after all. The surprising fact is that a perfect 5 star rating is not believable or relatable and people will skip to a similar business with a slightly lower rating. Because it's more like them: real, human.
So what makes the difference when you get that bad review?
It's all in how you approach it. The knee-jerk reaction is to take the review down. Get rid of the evidence that there may be something less than perfect about your business. Resist that urge! Instead, evaluate whether the review is legit. A savvy - or angry - blocked or removed user will find other outlets to share their wrath, now likely inflamed even more. Now to be sure, there are completely legitimate reasons to request the removal of a review. Among them: spam, conflict of interest, inappropriate language or illegal/copyrighted content. Most social media platforms have standards, and if the review runs afoul of the standards given by Google, Facebook, Yelp or wherever the review resides, it will probably be promptly removed. But you have to evaluate the review as objectively as possible. No one likes a light shown on an underlying problem, but this is your opportunity to show what makes you a great and real company. This is what makes you different.
If you've had to acknowledge that the review has merit (even if it's not 100% accurate ) don't reply right away.
I know, I know. I just said not to remove it, which is what you really want to do. And now I'm telling you not to reply? Right when you have so much to say?
Yup. Sorry. That's exactly why you should wait. Step away from your keyboard, friend! You're not ignoring it forever, but just until you can give yourself time to think honestly about what the reviewer is trying to say. An angry or rude response is not how you want to portray your business. Reply publicly in a calm and professional manner.
After all, everyone just wants to be HEARD, right?
Disney used a service failure approach that has stuck with me, and I think it applies to the digital realm as well. The basic idea is:
Hear: Just listen. Close your mouth, and listen. Give the customer the opportunity to tell their complete, uninterrupted story.
Empathize: Empathy creates an emotional connection, a trust that is crucial to demonstrating willingness and ability to help the customer. Consider using phrases like “If I were in your shoes…” and “Your reactions are completely normal…” to validate the customer’s feelings.
Apologize: Sometimes, this is all the customer is looking for. The power of a sincere apology should never be underestimated.
Resolve: Resolve the issue quickly, or make sure that your employees are empowered to do so. Don’t be afraid to ask the customer “What can I do to make this right?”
Diagnose: Figure out why the mistake occurred. This isn't about blaming anyone. This is a sharp focus on fixing the process so that it doesn’t happen again.