"A review that has the potential, all on its own, to stop the phones ringing."
This is a typical 'killer' review - it is well-written and contains convincing detail. The business concerned has a handful of five star reviews as well, but these will be neutralised in the eyes of many (most?) prospective customers by a review like this. The fact that the review is four years old is irrelevant - prospective customers will invariably check out the 'worst' tab when reading reviews - and that takes this review to the top of the pile.
Some one star reviews are next to harmless (they are seen as rants, or simply the venting of the odd dissatisfied customer) but reviews like this un-tick all the boxes a reasonable person might be reasonably want ticked before contemplating making contact, let alone purchasing a product or service. A reasonable person might expect the following from any business...
- "nobody answers"
- "worst customer care"
- "go elsewhere"
Killer reviews in context
Killer reviews can be, and often are, the only review a business has received, but not necessarily; the fact that a business may have many complimentary reviews does not, of itself, always dilute the effect of a killer review.
Nothing puts a business off reviews faster than a killer review, and that leads it straight down the wrong path - to denial. Ignoring a killer review won't make it go away, and it certainly won't prevent it from being read (on the contrary: it can often be the catalyst for 'me too' reviews).
The correct strategy, of course, is to do exactly the opposite - engage. First by responding to that killer review, then by responding to any/all other reviews, whether complimentary or not.
This has three key effects on those reading the review(s): it shows the business's side of the story, it shows that the business cares and it 'warns' anyone thinking of posting a similar review that any future critical reviews will not go without a response from the business.
The response itself...
One of our all-time favourite responses. It wins hands down for brevity - but whether or not it wins any prizes for positive customer relations or PR is altogether debatable.
We see so many awful responses to killer reviews: angry ('how dare you!'), defensive ('all lies') and understandable ('we have no recollection'). The first two of these should never see the light of day, the third can be improved upon. Let's see...
"Dear Mr Hill, I am so sorry that we were not able to meet your expectations. We do endeavour to provide the very highest level of service for all our customers and we always explain how we carry out our work, from initial estimate through to firm quotation and then to carrying out the job.
It would seem that confusion has arisen over the difference between 'initial estimate' and 'firm quotation' in this instance and this has, understandably, led to the circumstances you describe, where our initial quotation (and 'sketches') have been mistaken for the latter. We always return calls within two hours (as you know, we are all engaged in the workshop or on site).
If we can be of any help in the future please do not hesitate to contact me personally.
A B Smith
The key elements of this response...
- it addresses the criticism made in the review. Replying, as so many do, with 'We would love to address the issues you have raised, please email me on arthur.smith@smithandco' fails to address the concerns of those reading the review and your response. It is important to remember your audience: your potential customers (besides, in reality it is unlikely that someone who has posted a critical review will check back to read any response)
- It is scrupulously professional and polite
- It gently corrects misapprehensions in the review
- It ends on a positive note
So - our action checklist...
There are basically only two things a business - in this situation or not - needs to do:
- Respond to every review
- Initiate a review management programme to generate more reviews