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Problem Solvers: What Do I Do When Someone Gives Me a Bad Review?

by Nikki Bromley, Pinstripe Marketing

Pinstripe Problem Solvers answer your most desperate questions about marketing.

In a pinch? Email us your problem, and we’ll help you find an answer.

“Pinstripe, help! I checked my Google Reviews this morning, and there it was—a one-star review! I remember the client and have NO IDEA what I did wrong.”

First of all, don’t panic. One thing we always keep in mind is to try and “turn it around.” If you can somehow turn a bad review into a good one with outstanding customer service, then you may have won over a lifelong advocate of your business.

When you receive a bad review, you must not ignore it. It’s not going to go away, so you need to take action.

The first thing to do is to respond directly to the review on Google using the client’s name. Be compassionate and diplomatic. Do not start an argument, say anything rude, accusatory, or make any statement that could offend the customer. Let them know that you are sorry that their experience was less than exceptional, and you want to address their problem, perhaps find a solution. Anything less than a calm, composed response can be very harmful to your reputation. Negativity, name-calling and rude behavior are immature, embarrassing, and a big no-no! No one wants to do business with someone like that.

If you remember the customer or client, and have their contact information, reach out to them by phone. Prepare yourself with some talking points. Refer to the Google Review and the fact that you’d like to not only improve their experience but learn how to make the next customer’s experience better. Admit your mistake, if you made one, and apologize. You may even want to be prepared to offer a refund on the product or service if they were extremely displeased, mainly if they had good reason to be.

We all make mistakes, and sometimes dealing with a bad Google Review is no one’s fault but our own. Make good on your mistakes, but also let the world know that you did. Once the case is resolved, revisit the Google Review and address the resolution in another response. For example:

“We are so glad we could come to a resolution, Sharon. Thank you for taking the time to give us feedback and help us to improve our service. We look forward to serving you again in the future.”

This may prompt the client to change their 1-star review to a 5-star review. Don’t count on it, but if it does happen, it’s a pleasant bonus. What you’re doing is showing others who read the reviews that you were proactive in seeking out a solution to a problem with your product or service.

On occasion, you will have a difficult client who is either manipulating you or is hard to please. In the case of the former, if you are shrewd enough, you can beat them at their game. I’ll illustrate this with an example.

We have a client (let’s call them Dave) who has a beautiful 5-star review history on Google. Their reputation is untarnished because they do such a great job at what they do, but they also take the time to address any negative reviews or concerns directly. One day, Dave received a negative review with a single star. Dave couldn’t believe it! He remembered the client, who left the office seemingly happy with their service and no complaints at all. The entire transaction was perfect from start to finish.

The person was a referral from another business, so Dave contacted that business to find out if they knew anything. The business had actually been mentioned in the review, so in a way, they were already involved. The referring business did remember the client, and everything went perfectly. The client had nothing bad to say. Through some research and a direct call to the client, Dave discovered that this person was trying to trick him into offering a refund because they had heard that significant refunds were issued to resolve negative Google Reviews. A small refund had been issued recently and mentioned in response to the initial negative review.

Use this story as a warning: be careful of issuing refunds to clients, and if you do, make it protocol to be discreet. If word travels that you’re known to issue refunds, you may find yourself in a predicament like Dave. When he confronted the client, she sheepishly took the review down, and they never heard from her again.

Bad reviews are not the end of the world. Treat them as an opportunity to improve your customer service and product offerings. Most people who read reviews will take notice that even though you don’t have a perfect 5-stars, you made an effort to provide the best possible experience when things went awry.

Get in touch with us if you have a problem that Pinstripe can solve! We’d love to hear your marketing issues and will choose one a month to respond to on our website!

Pinstripe Answers: How Do I Fix a Bad Online Review?

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by Michael Premo, Content Strategist

This is a question we get asked about a lot. Getting rid of a bad review is not easy, but there are ways to fix it, all of which depend upon where it’s at and your level of interaction.

Many of our clients are in the professional services industry. They rely on recommendations and positive online reviews through sites such as Google, Lawyers.com and the Better Business Bureau. Occasionally, they’ll get a bad review on one of these sites or other lesser-known ones that may have a long term effect on their reputation. While there’s no single easy fix for a bad review, there are many approaches to lessen the effects, and in some cases turn a negative into a positive.

 

Where It’s at Matters

In real estate, location matters. The same can be said for a bad online review. Some websites allow you to respond, while others don’t. The trick is to watch them closely, set up alerts through Google and hire a reputation watchdog.

Let’s take a look at where and what you can do about it.

  • Social Media – Respond Directly and Send a Direct Message (DM)

You have “complete” control of your social media account; therefore, you can delete anything posted directly to your wall. But, business reviews on Facebook or other social media platforms cannot be deleted. You can respond to them, and this article will tell you how to formulate a positive, non-adversarial response.

Another way to handle a bad review is to send a direct message to the reviewer and find some sort of common ground. This may require an investigation into the source of their frustration, as well as some humble pie. The point is to see if they can change or delete their rating. Be very careful about your approach and the words you use. And, be humble, because saying the wrong thing could make matters worse.

  • Google – Respond Directly if Possible and Respond to Review

The world’s #1 search engine also provides its users with business ratings and snippets of reviews. You can “Manage Reviews” in your Google My Business account. Avoid using your smartphone or another mobile device when doing this. Your laptop/desktop gives you the ability to take your time and collect your thoughts—make sure spelling, grammar, and tone are correct.

Take a moment to assess a negative review before you respond. Was this customer a good fit for your business? How were their expectations not met? Can you reach out to them directly? A response is necessary, especially when there’s nothing you can do or say to make them feel better about your business. Just make sure that you follow proper etiquette and maintain a very professional posture. At all costs avoid getting into a back and forth argument with the dissatisfied customer. This is unprofessional and will make you look worse in the eyes of your audience.

A similar approach to responding to Facebook reviews can be taken here as well. Respond directly to the client by reaching out to them personally in an attempt to mend the relationship. In turn they may remove their negative feedback or change it to a positive. Win-win situation here!

  • Lawyers.com – No Response

What do you do when you can’t respond to a bad review or several of them? You go on the offensive and reach out to as many clients as possible and solicit positive reviews. To capture their attention, offer them something in return, such as a book that’s relevant to their industry or free consultation. Be creative with this, because the more you get, the less substantive that negative review will be.

  • Yelp.com – Respond Directly and Send a Direct Message (DM)

People are paying attention to how you respond to a positive or negative review. So, you need to respond to every review, but take your time to know more about a negative review before you respond. If you don’t know the “whole” story, you may hurt your chances to change that bad review. This starts with reaching out to the reviewer. If you know their email address, send them an email. If not, you can DM them through Yelp. Find out more about the situation and how you can remedy it. If they aren’t willing to respond, then compose and post your response to their review.

 

Your Response Needs to Be Timely

You need to respond as quickly as possible for each negative review for a couple of reasons. The first is so others will see that you are committed to your clients and care about their experience with your business. The other reason is that you have a major opportunity to change a bad review into a good one. According to Yelp, you have a 33% chance to change a bad review into a good one if you respond within 24 hours.

The Pinstripe PR team are reputation management pros and can help mitigate negative comments. We have helped local and nationally-based businesses with their online reputation. Contact us to learn how we can help strengthen your reputation.

Truth in Advertising: Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth

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Few things can heighten the suspense of a cop drama like a good ol’ fashioned lie detector scene. The machine has its tentacles on the perpetrator. A large needle jumps for every spike in their heart rate, confirming what was suspected all along.

William Marston, the co-inventor of the lie detector, went by the pen name Charles Moulton, and was the author of Wonder Woman. A bio-drama about Marston’s life, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, was released in 2017 and shows us how he invented the polygraph and why our favorite super hero uses a lasso of truth.

To Uphold the Law

She didn’t need a gun or a laser beam stare. An unassuming lasso was her weapon and one of the things we remember most about Wonder Woman. With her lariat, she could subdue anyone and force them to tell the truth. She even used it on the good guys, as we saw in the recent Gal Gadot film, because she needed the truth to understand more about what was going on in the world.

Seeking the truth is important for a crime fighter, like Wonder Woman, and it’s also important for marketing. We never want to mislead anyone, because that could have a negative effect on clients and customers. Plus, as an advertising agency, Pinstripe is held to the same laws and standards that dictate how companies are able to advertise their products and services.

Under the Florida Deceptive Trade Practices Laws, it’s illegal to make false claims. Things like bait-and-switch and spreading disinformation are also outlined in this law. Any company caught doing this can face extensive fines for each infraction. It’s best to tell the truth and follow the guidelines within your professional community. This is particularly true for the legal, financial and health care industries.

Just the Facts

Media outlets rely on truth and accuracy in their reporting. As you are probably well aware, they have been tested recently, so they’re getting better at snuffing out potential blowback from their audiences.

Because press releases are branding and credibility tools, it’s important for them to have verifiable facts. Any mistakes made could have the opposite effect. Reporters have an uncanny ability to find a different story than what had been intended, especially when the facts are misrepresented.

Nothing But the Truth

With blogs and social media, the delivery of content has been democratized. The messages we deliver to our audiences are a reflection of our brands and illustrate our knowledge, experience, and thought leadership. So obviously, it is critical that our missives are not only truthful, but unique. There are terabytes of content littered throughout the web, making it increasingly simple to cut and paste bits and pieces to make the job of blogging easier. However, plagiarism makes for a terrible brand image. Original work is truthful work. Think of these messages as having a lasso of truth, making your truth easier for others to see.

This article is part of a series on how Wonder Woman’s inspires our marketing philosophy. Throughout the year, we will be featuring more on this topic, so let us know how you feel about it in our comments section below.

Employees Are Also Brand Ambassadors, Not Just the Executives

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Pinstripe has seen, all too often, the mistakes people make when posting on social media. Everyone makes mistakes. We get it. Some mistakes are minor, like the usual typos and a forgotten word or two, while others take on a whole other dimension that can cause a firestorm of negative feedback. Then, even worse, it goes viral.

For the most part, these mistakes are somewhat ridiculous. However in some circumstances, they can have negative consequences for nearly everyone connected. Unfortunately, the individual’s employer could be attached to their profile, and in turn cause customer backlash.

Employee handbooks have whole sections devoted to these issues. Plus, more companies are adopting them. So, why don’t companies turn something that’s perceived as negative into a positive? Encouraging employees to post the great things about the company can have a huge advantage in the social media race.

In the Past…

Bad things said about a company or it’s employees were talked about among family and friends and were rarely found in the papers, which only had a regional effect. However, because of technology, the word-of-mouth systems of old have taken on a whole new meaning. So has the phrase “spreads like wildfire.” Anything posted on social media has the potential to do this. There are so many social media outlets today that monitoring them in order to defend a company’s reputation has turned into a growing industry.

Education and Training

The trick isn’t monitoring, it’s educating. This goes beyond company policies on proper etiquette. Think about creating a brand ambassador program to educate and train employees on how to accentuate the company’s marketing efforts. Instead of having a neutral social media policy with do’s and do not’s, you are creating a positive force of brand ambassadors.

Below are some very basic steps to setting up your employees as brand ambassadors. The possibility of a substantial return on this investment could exceed your expectations.

Communicate the Plan

Informing employees about expectations and repercussions will let them know exactly what the company’s vision is and how social media can highlight the company in positive ways. GE’s brand ambassador plan is a great example of how a company can increase customer engagement through employee engagement.

Provide Guidelines

Your employee handbook should already have social media policies against inappropriate posts. So, they need to know what they should post. Examples are an easy way to answer questions about content before they’re asked.

Permission and Content

You’ll need to reassure them that there are no repercussions for posting positive info and pictures. A little trust will go a long way. To help them along, you can have hashtags available and URLs for quick access on a company page.

Maintaining a Positive Reputation

When employees post good things about their workplace and services, people will take notice. This is especially true when bad things happen and the company goes into crisis management mode. If an overwhelming amount of positive information is out there, then that leaves very little for negativity to thrive on. A positive reputation is easier to uphold in the social arena, and employees as brand ambassadors are a great way to achieve and maintain it.

Online Reputation Management Refresher

For many years, we have helped brands build and maintain their online reputations. The key has been consistency and doing a few things well, as opposed to trying to do everything poorly. Taking control of your online reputation is more important today than it has ever been. The amount of people relying on the internet for research and reviews continues to grow every year.

It’s no longer acceptable for your business to have no reviews or testimonials. If your company is having problems getting online reviews, just ask clients. And keep asking because 90% of the people in a large survey use the internet for research on products and services and 88% of them trust positive online reviews, treating them like personal recommendations.

The Bad Review

In 2014, over 2/3 of the people in a large survey said that they base their purchasing decisions on online reviews. Negative reviews can turn away 22% to 70% of a company’s potential business, depending upon how many bad reviews show up in the search results.

The process to address bad reviews has not changed. All negative comments should be addressed quickly and directly. Communicate with the reviewer, if possible, to rectify the situation or find some common ground. Then, write a blog about how these problems were addressed.

Dealing with Social Media

Social media faux pas still top the list for most frequent and destructive actions to reputations. Last year, the recently fallen YouTube vlogger, Kian Lawley, made racist comments which forced Fox and other companies to pull the plug on all of his film and television projects. The same thing can happen to small and midsize companies, which is why protocols need to be in place for all social media marketing.

Once the News Hears About It…

Over the years, news and entertainment media have increased their coverage of social media activity—from the President’s quixotic tweets to sports and television stars. Social media has become newsworthy, especially when it’s negative.

No one is immune to this trend. Even worse is when mistakes go viral, like the epic social media fail for a store in northern Minnesota, because local media outlets cover local businesses and someone, anyone can pick the story up and share it.

Everything Contributes, Not Just Social Media

Reputation management has a good mix of everything. Social media is a large part of that reputation, but it isn’t the only thing that matters. Keeping content fresh and up-to-date is also important. Businesses can go back and erase negative or outdated posts. This includes website content, like blogs, articles and case studies.

It’s also important to follow websites that post client and customer reviews. Many will have a policy for retracting negative reviews. All of this is part of a reputation maintenance plan, because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

In some cases, you may need a bit more help with smoothing over your bad review or a publicly smeared reputation. In these situations, Pinstripe Marketing can help! Contact us for assistance.