Getting a strong Google reviews score is a critical point for marketing investment in any business. Every business listed on Google My Business and Google Maps carries a rating with it, and this is one of the first indicators of the quality of your establishment that any potential customers will see. The important thing about Google ratings is that they do not exist in isolation.
When someone searches for a certain type of business in a given area, they will be shown all similar nearby businesses and the review scores of those establishments. 4-star Google reviews might look respectable with nothing to compare it to, but put it next to two 5-star ratings and a 4.5-star one and suddenly it’s the worst option by a sizable margin. This is why ‘close enough’ isn’t good enough in this marketing sub-field. If you don’t strive for the top spot, someone else will – and in this critical way, it’s a zero-sum game.
Because Facebook searches are not location-based in the way that Google Maps searches are, it’s easy to think that Facebook reviews are the less important of the two primary review sources. In some ways, this is true, but Facebook’s real marketing power isn’t derived from what it shows random searchers about a particular business – it’s derived from how it automatically broadcasts reviews to everyone in a person’s friend group.
Facebook functions somewhat like town gossip used to in our opening example. If someone didn’t enjoy their meal Friday night and decides to post a negative review about it, they could easily damage that restaurant’s reputation for hundreds of people by Monday morning. It’s a less direct sort of bad press that kills any interest before it can even begin to grow, and a robust reputation management strategy will never discount it.
Dealing With Bad Reviews
While every establishment is bound to get negative feedback from time to time, it’s important to do damage control afterward to ensure that it doesn’t start a trend of complaints. Fixing this involves reaching out to the customer following a key series of steps:
- Apologize for the negative experience
- Promise to do better next time
- Invite them to leave a new review in the future
- Optional – privately extend some kind of compensatory offer (a free or discounted visit is common) as a show of good faith
Some poor reviews will also be based on things outside of your control as a business owner (for example, bad weather on the day a wedding planner has arranged an outdoor ceremony), and there will be little you can reasonably do to address the problems. In these cases, you may be able to have the review removed by reporting it to the host company as fraudulent or irrelevant. In order to avoid undermining people’s trust in the review system, though, this option should be used as infrequently as possible.