Reposted from Forbes Agency Council, October 13, 2022
Carol Levine, APR, Fellow CPRS is co-founder and CEO of Toronto-based public relations and corporate communications agency, energi PR, and a though leader on Forbes Agency Council. Here Carol joins fellow Forbes Agency Council PR, media, creative and ad agency executives on their Expert Panel to share trends and tips. To learn more about energi PR visit www.energipr.com and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Businesses must make the most of accolades, but websites showing exclusively positive reviews of a company’s products, services or customer experience could come across as suspicious to consumers. The voice of the happy customer deserves to be heard, and companies should share the kudos they earn, but also allowing consumers to also view constructive feedback from customers and acknowledging areas that need improvement can help businesses build trust with their target audience.
Is there a way to share both glowing reviews and less-than-stellar feedback from customers in an honest way that actually burnishes a company’s name for being authentic and truthful, ultimately benefiting its brand reputation? Members of Forbes Agency Council pondered that same question, and you can read their insightful responses below.
1. Use Replies To Negative Reviews To Show How You’ll Improve
No one expects your company to be perfect, but they do expect you to address the problems that they and others have pointed out. So, use your replies to negative reviews to show how you’ll improve. Take that opportunity to prove that you’re listening to your customers’ concerns, that you truly value their input and that you’re willing to make changes to earn their loyalty. – Scott Greggory, MadAveGroup
2. Validate Poor Reviews With Superb, Brand-Aligned Customer Care
One of the best ways to build credibility and brand advocacy is to reply to those poor reviews with superb and brand-aligned customer care. Listening to and validating these negative reviews can not only be incredibly enriching, but also a great opportunity to turn around less-than-stellar feedback into a positive, superb review. – Paula Celestino, SPRK Media Group Inc.
3. Establish Transparency With Newly Signed Clients
I have yet to see any PR agencies sharing failures on their website or social platforms, but to me, the concept of doing so would definitely be disruptive and a differentiator. In my experience, clients want to see success stories—the more glorious the better. Establishing transparency and authenticity happens once we get in the door. It’s when we pull the rabbit out of the hat. – Carol Levine, energi PR Inc
4. Mix Lower-Rated UGC Video Reviews In Among Higher-Rated Reviews
User-generated content in video format, specifically on Instagram, is very helpful in terms of garnishing attention and conversions. Even if a review has a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars, mixing it in with multiple 4-star and 5-star reviews can be a very authentic way to highlight customer reviews in an organic and relatable fashion. – Krishan Arora, The Arora Project
5. Comment On Less-Than-Stellar Reviews To Address Customer Concerns
If there is a less-than-stellar review, a brand can take the time to effectively comment and address any customer concerns related to the product. When another potential customer sees the brand’s response, it raises trust in the brand that it will effectively address customer concerns and act to fix them. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC
6. Show You Care By Addressing Poor Feedback And Asking How To Fix Mistakes
Most people will understand that you aren’t perfect. The best way to show that you can handle poor feedback is by showing how you addressed it. Reply to the bad feedback asking how you can correct the mistake. Show that you care about your customer having a poor experience. People will see you are making an effort to right a wrong and will trust you more for it. – Jason Hall, FiveChannels Marketing
7. Respond With Understanding And Insight And Use The Chance To Improve
When operating at a high level with many clients and projects, a negative review is a possibility, as it’s impossible to please everyone. However, more important than the negative review itself is your response. Show genuine care, understanding and insight in your response. Use it as an opportunity to see the weaknesses in your services and improve. No growth was ever without hardship. – David Kley, Web Design and Company
8. Personalize Specific Responses And Outline The Actions The Brand Will Take
People can recognize outliers in reviews; they want to see the truth and make an informed decision themselves. Personalize specific responses to acknowledge the feedback, outlining an action the brand will take. Nothing is worse than seeing the copy-and-paste of AI-driven replies on a brand website—it is more harmful than beneficial. People want to know they are heard and that brands are actually listening. – Katie Schibler Conn, KSA Marketing
9. Respond To All Reviews Without Being Defensive And Offer To Take It Offline
Responding to all reviews, no matter if they are good or bad, shows the brand is responsive and engaged with its clientele. Don’t be defensive when it comes to responding to negative reviews. Thank customers for sharing their feedback, and offer to take the conversation offline to help resolve the issue. These productive conversations can provide opportunities for improvement. – Michelle Abdow, Market Mentors, LLC
10. Be Prepared To Acknowledge The Customer And Correct The Situation
Feedback is a gift, even when it is wrapped in dull paper. Now that the review is public, what will the brand/company do to course correct? Will you answer or just ignore it? I will always respect a brand that acknowledges the customer and tries its best to correct the situation. Part of a good social/reputation strategy is to prepare for these types of situations and have a playbook ready. – Julie Veloz, Ketchum
11. Address Negative Feedback Promptly And Provide A Solution
No company is perfect, but your troubleshooting practices can be. Addressing negative feedback promptly, thoughtfully and in a solutions-oriented manner will earn trust and brand loyalty. Responses should let consumers know their concerns were heard, their feedback is valued and that the company has an immediate solution to address or alleviate the issue. – Jeanette Palmer, NAIL Communications
12. Feature Both 5-Star And 4-Star Ratings On Your Website
Companies can be truthful without compromising their credibility. Featuring both 5-star and 4-star ratings on your website allows you to focus on the positive without only including “perfect” reviews. Also, include a link to your Google My Business listing, which demonstrates your transparency to prospects. – Hannah Trivette, NUVEW Web Solutions
13. Consider Highlighting Situational Missteps And Positive End Results
Honesty and integrity are keys to a company’s growth and success. Alongside accolades and glowing reviews, consider highlighting situational missteps, followed by how your company solved the issue, and then the positive end-result feedback from the client. This helps to show that, while your brand may not be perfect, your team is always ready to put in the work to solve the biggest problems. – Bernard May, National Positions
14. Let Consumers See Genuine Feedback And How You Addressed It
Let’s face it, no one—and no company—is perfect. Seeing genuine feedback allows consumers to feel more comfortable with a brand. The best way to demonstrate this is by making sure that when something happens, it’s addressed and corrected and, if need be, an apology is put into play. It shows dedication to the brand and loyalty to the consumer. You can’t beat that! – Leeza Hoyt, The Hoyt Organization, Inc.
15. Feature Testimonials On Your Site And Links To Review Platforms Where You’ll Respond
Owner responses when replying to bad reviews are a fantastic opportunity for free one-on-one screen time with potential customers. Bad reviews are simply second chances. Feature a few testimonials on your site, but also provide links to all the different review platforms you actively respond on—Google, Yelp and so on. This shows your willingness to address customer issues while maintaining a good-looking site. – Evan Nison, NisonCo