5 Stars Only – How to Prevent Bad Online Reviews
Online reviews can make a service business boom or bust. One star or five can be the difference between turning a curious prospect into a raving advocate or losing a customer for good. According to the HBR, for every single bad online review, you’ll need twelve positive reviews to counter its effects. While negative customer feedback from time to time is inevitable, most negative online reviews can in fact be prevented. Read on to find out how.
It's All About Feedback Loops
There’s a lot of dialogue around why online reviews are so great for optimizing the customer experience. Each customer review will tell you what you’re doing wrong, how you can improve, and what your customers expect. While it’s a credible strategy, it doesn't prevent bad online reviews from happening in the first place. 1 star reviews are out there for the public to see and customers begin to second-guess their options.
The superior strategy is to close the customer feedback loop internally. Send your customers a quick automated survey as soon as they’ve received a service to understand their level of customer satisfaction (we love NPS for this). If customers are unhappy, you have a chance to make things right before they turn online to vent their frustration. Through this process, you also learn about what matters most to your customers, which allows you to improve the customer experience from the get-go.
How to Build a Fast Feedback Loop
When set up right, feedback loops are a self-sustaining system. The customer feedback (the input) affects the delivery of customer experiences (the output). To create a self-sustaining, effective feedback loop, you’ll need:
- Real-time customer feedback: For the feedback loop to continuously flow, you need to be collecting feedback in real-time, as soon as the service is complete. If you wait too long after an experience to collect feedback, not only are customers less likely to engage with the survey, but you miss the window of opportunity to follow up with customers before they take to Yelp or Google to write a negative review.
- Short soundbites of actionable feedback: You can’t ask customers too much. Your survey should be made up of 1-3 questions so that feedback is easy to analyze and take meaningful action on. With a 20 question survey, prioritization and action becomes overwhelming.
- Shared feedback: Finally, a strong feedback loop is one where the customer sentiment is instantly funneled through to the people responsible for delivering customer experiences: your frontline teams. This way, lessons can be learned, actions can be taken and customer-facing teams can see the love customers share when they’re doing an awesome job.
Find the Silver Lining in Negative Feedback
The goal is not to eliminate all negative feedback, but to make sure it becomes constructive, not destructive. When negative feedback does enter a feedback loop, it can be used to guide coaching for the frontline. So in the long run, employees can learn what went wrong, and how to prevent it from happening again, without the risk of losing prospects.
For example, Houwzer, a modern, socially responsible real estate and mortgage brokerage, uses real-time customer feedback to guide weekly 1:1 coaching conversations between the frontline and management. It means coaching that starts from a meaningful place and customer-facing teams know exactly what they need to do to create a 5-star experience. Using this strategy, Houwzer’s average Yelp rating jumped from 3.4 to 4.5 stars.
It’s Not All Negative
Closing feedback loops internally isn’t just about following up with negative feedback, but the positive stuff too. If you know a customer feels satisfied after leaving a high NPS rating or some top tier feedback, you can follow up with them asking for an online review or even for a referral. This helps to flood your online reviews with 5 stars.
Hot tip: technology is key here. You don’t have the time to follow up with all happy customers, but you can use automations and rule-based triggers to drive reviews or trigger the next best action.
No one likes a 1-star review. They stick out on Google or Yelp like a sore thumb and continue to repel prospective customers from your brand. To prevent them, use simple, speedy and effective internal feedback loops that drive customer advocacy.
Now you know how to prevent bad online reviews, let's take a look at how you can triple your positive ones.