If your business has a perfect review score, then you're one of the lucky few! Studies show that 94% of online customers read reviews before making a decision to purchase a product or service, so if you have negative reviews, they could be affecting your sales.

What are the most powerful review platforms?

If you have a Google My Business account (Google Maps listing), then the Google Map reviews may be the first thing your customers see before clicking through to your website from the Google search engine.

However, Google Maps also features your reviews from Facebook, Yelp, Tripadvisor and some other popular review sites as well as your google reviews.

To optimise your reviews effectively, it's important to prioritise the most popular review platform used by your customers. For instance, if your customers normally find your business through Facebook, then focus on your Facebook star rating. Alternatively, if your customers normally find you through searching your company's keywords, then focus on increasing your Google reviews.

How do these reviews affect potential customers?

A recent study from Moz reveals how much of an impact different factors have on the online buying process, using a group of 1,000 consumers through Google Consumer Surveys.

According to the study performed, businesses risk losing as many as 22% of potential customers when they find just one negative review for that product/service. This number increases to 59.2% for 3 negative reviews and around 70% for 4 negative reviews.

How do I deal with bad reviews?

If you receive a bad review, don't fret! Most bad reviews can be changed when handled correctly. If you feel you are given an unfair review on Google My Business that violates Google's review policies and you would like to get it removed, click here.

Rather than pushing the review to the back of your mind, follow these simple steps to try and improve your rating:

Step 1: Reply as soon as possible.
If you reply to the bad review as soon as you see it, there's a higher chance of the issue being resolved. If the review is months old, its likely your reply will be ignored and the customer will have moved on.

Step 2: Stay polite and well mannered.
When talking to a disgruntled customer, your best bet is to approach them in a professional and calm manner. The tone of your reply can have a huge effect on how the customer will deal with it.

Step 3: Always apologise.
The most important step is to apologise straight away. An apology at the beginning of the response can calm your customer and reassure them that you are taking their viewpoint seriously.

Step 4: Let them know you would have been happy to solve the situation at the time.
Explain to the customer that you wish they would have gone to you to explain your dissatisfaction at the time so it could have been resolved immediately.

Step 5: Offer them something.
A simple offer of something free or to put the situation right if possible can help to amend the situation. Although this may cost the company time and money, bear in mind that this review will likely be against your companies name forever and a star rating is a number 1 factor used by customers to judge a business.

Step 6: Take it away from the review site
If your customer is upset or angry, you need to try to defuse the situation. Deal with them in a professional manner by providing the customer with a phone number and email address to contact you on to continue the discussion. By taking it away from the review site, you can deal with the matter privately and professionally, showing the customer respect.

Step 7: Apologise again.
Remember to reiterate your apology, this way the customer will feel as though you are showing concern for the situation and your response is genuine, hopefully, they may give you another try.

If you're stuck for words, try out this example response:

"Dear [Customer Name],

I hope you can find it in your heart to accept my apology for the poor experience you had at [Company Name].

We work hard to make our customers our top priority at [Company Name] and I'm sorry we didn't address the situation up to our usual standard in this case.

I wish you'd had the chance to talk to me about this in person at the time, but I realise it may have been too hectic to reach out to me that day. I would gladly have given you an [an offer to amend the situation] to try to make up for the inconvenience.

Please, accept this as my invitation to [reference what you're willing to offer to amend the situation].

If you come, I'd really appreciate you taking a minute to let me know, in person, anything else you feel we can do to improve our service. This is our business and we are invested in maintaining top customer satisfaction at all times.

Please accept my apology and give us a chance to make it right.

Thank you,
[Your Name]
[Position], [Company Name]"

By replying to your customer, there is a chance they may improve their star rating based on how well you have handled their complaint and the excellent customer service you have demonstrated.

If the customer does not reply to your message, then don’t worry. By replying to their message professionally, any potential customers who read the review can see that you have tried to fix the situation and treated your customers with respect.

Either way, responding to the customer will show those that visit your review page, that you truly care about your customers.