S3 EP4 | How To Address Bad Online Reviews

Show Notes:

Focus Discussion of the Week:

Bad online reviews are practically inevitable, and the way you handle those reviews can make or break your online perception and your brand reputation. Hear from Laura Stortz, g2 Builder Marketing Manager, and Jane Vitelli, g2 Social Media Coordinator, as they discuss responding to bad reviews in a way that puts your company in a positive light.

Laura: Hi, everyone. Welcome back to Building Perspective. We are at season three, episode four, and I am super excited to introduce you to one of our newest guests. She is actually part of the Group Two social team. Jane Vitelli. 

Jane is such an awesome integral team member. Super excited to have her on the podcast for the first time talking about how to address bad reviews.

So welcome Jane. Happy to have you. 

Jane: Thanks, Laura.

Laura: I also forgot to introduce myself. So this is Laura, I’m a builder and marketing manager at Group Two. As I just mentioned, we are going to talk about how to address bad reviews. This is probably a topic that you guys have heard us talk about before we’ve written blogs about it.

It’s honestly relevant all the time, because it’s happening all the time, especially with all the delays that builders are still experiencing these days, because. COVID and whatnot. Timelines are being pushed back. That does cause some unhappy customers and homeowners from time to time. It is still relevant today and we do want to share with you guys some tips on what to do, if you do get a bad review. 

We’re going to be sharing six tips, and then also offer maybe a bonus tip at the end as well. We’re going to kick off, Jane’s going to talk about the first tip. And just to clarify, when we’re talking about bad reviews, we’re really talking about online reviews.

 This could be Facebook. This could be Google. Those are the two biggest ones, but also really any type of review that you get on any online class. 

Jane: The first tip is, make sure that you’re responding. And I think there’s two really important components here. And one is the timing of your reply and the next one is the context of your reply.

 You don’t want to ignore it and pretend that the bad review isn’t there, but you also don’t want to not think and just quickly reply and let your anger or sadness or disappointment get the best of you. It’s really finding that balance between making sure that you’re replying in a timely manner, but also making sure that you’re addressing the issue properly in your response. 

Making sure you read the review a few times, thinking about exactly how you want to answer and just kind of taking a step back before writing anything down, because again, you’re representing your entire brand in your entire company. 

 So, although I am 23, I’ve never bought a house. I have stayed in hotels and Airbnbs and reviews are really important to me when I’m doing this research. 

I actually two nights ago searched for an Airbnb, and I will not book without checking what other people are saying about it. Although this one, Airbnb had a few negative reviews, 1) the good ones did outweigh the bad ones and it had a lot of other positive factors, which is why I wanted to book it, but 2) the owner of the Airbnb did address the negative reviews and address them in the right way. And I could see those replies.

 I know that if the negative reviews were not addressed, I would not have booked with them. 

Laura: Yeah. I think that’s a really good point. I think most people’s first instinct is to pretend it didn’t happen or wish it wasn’t there and just kind of ignore it and run away from it. But I totally agree that first and foremost, you have to accept that you need to respond to it because it’s going to look far worse if you just let it go and just ignore it. 

 Okay. The second tip, it sort of goes along with that, but it’s really important to also acknowledge and admit that you could have done something wrong.

Yes. There are some crazy people commenting, incorrect and false things a lot of the times, but sometimes you do mess up and you do have to own it. Don’t get defensive. If someone is upset and they’re commenting with a bad review, something went wrong along the way. Really just try to take a deep breath acknowledge that you could have done something wrong.

You’re human, you’re flawed and it’s okay. But I think accepting that is an important step in being able to respond in a way that is appropriate and also with some empathy. 

Jane: Yeah, I totally agree. 

Laura: And that kind of leads into also Jane, I guess the next tip. 

Jane: And the third one is to take this offline.

 After you’ve taken the time to figure out the best way to address the issue, it’s time to really take those words and turn it into action. You don’t want to wait for a response back from the customer. You don’t want to leave it with: please contact us here or something like that. Whether you’re right or wrong, it doesn’t matter because this is your business and your job. So you want to say that you will contact them moving forward. First of all, it shows that you’re taking responsibility and initiative. It also drastically cuts down the chance of like an online fight. There’s no need for that. And it will just hurt your brand even more. 

Also some of the things that people say online, they would never say in person, or just one-on-one, if that’s through an email or a phone call. So talking about the issue privately, it kind of puts both the customer and the builder in a much better environment and headspace to work out the issue.

Laura: I think it also when you do communicate offline and not from behind a screen, it does humanize both people. And so when you’re actually talking to someone, whether it’s on the phone or meeting with them face to face you’re less likely to say something ridiculous. It’s easier to understand where the other person is coming from if you’re speaking with them and it’s like a, one-on-one more personal conversation and it’s easier to maybe understand what actually happened and try to fix. 

Okay, the fourth tip goes along with what Jane you’ve said, whatever you say back as representative of your company. 

Whatever you say is your brand, it’s the message you’re putting out there. So remember that you are still a professional, you are running a business, no matter what this person has said in the negative review, or even if they’ve responded again and said something just even more negative, try to remember that this is your company you’re representing.

Stay positive, stay professional, don’t go off on them. Again, take it offline. Don’t air your grievances online. Just really keep in mind “what does my company stand for? How do we treat people? How do we want to be treated?” And try to let that guide your response. I know it’s really hard sometimes because you probably disagree with the person or you don’t think it is representative of who you are and that’s not how you do things, but just keep cool, take a breath.

Remember whatever you’re putting out there is you and your company, and it needs to match what you really stand for, what your mission is. All of that. 

Jane: Yeah, definitely. And this will just make you and your team stronger thicker skin and be able to deal with all different types of customers throughout your process.

Our fifth tip is to learn from these negative reviews.

 Figure out, was there more information or education that your team could have put out to prevent these bad reviews from coming in? And just remember that nobody is perfect and you really can’t make progress if you’re perfect. So all of this negativity will end up helping you and your team in the long run.

Another thing is not forgetting about the good reviews. I have some builders who run testimonial campaigns and they have these nice graphics that go along with their brand and we can insert reviews or testimonials and place them on social media. So. It takes that positive message, words that an actual homeowner, said about your company and your brand, and puts it further than just wherever it’s placed, whether that’s on as a Facebook review, a Google review, or just on your website.

And it spreads it to other social media platforms so that other people can see those positive reviews and help them make a decision and maybe want to build with you as well. 

Again, it’s a lot about balance and not letting just the bad reviews, get you down and taking the good ones as well and being more creative and doing more with it, if you can. 

Laura: I love the mention of the good reviews. I want to backtrack just a second, because I think this fifth tip is my favorite, the learn from it, because I think so quickly people are wanting to move away from something bad that happened. 

 It’s hard to sit in it and think, ” oh man, like what actually happened? Why did it happen? Did we miss something was something wrong with our process? Did, where did we break down?” And if you can actually sit with that a little bit and really look at that and use this person’s feedback as a learning tool, I think that’s really helpful for your business. 

And I like what you said, Jane, about perfection, if you’re perfect, are you ever going to improve or grow? I think these types of reviews are really just feedback to you and your company to help you improve. So asking yourself “why did this person have a bad experience? Did we miscommunicate something? Is there like a hole in our organization that we need to fill?”

And then also you had brought this up before, could we create something, whether it’s email content, blog, content, social media content, something on the website that would have better educated and informed this person about how our process worked so we could have avoided this bad experience?

And If there is, and if we find that by taking this person’s feedback, let our team create that information and be more of an educational resource to try to prevent this type of situation moving forward. So I think there’s so much, you really can learn from these types of reviews that can really make you a better company, 

Jane: I think it also makes you a better person because this is advice and tips that you can use not only professionally, but personally, too. 

Laura: It definitely blends into a lot of different areas of life, not just work and professional. 

I want to bring up one thing in relation to how you could learn from the review or did something happen or was something broken in your process, especially now when people are buying and building homes in today’s world, where there are still plenty of delays and timelines of neighborhoods are pushed back. And there’s a lot of uncertainty still. This is the time to over-communicate. 

And this ties into reviews because a lot of negative feedback and reviews from people probably does come from builders and teams not communicating enough or leaving people maybe out, so over communicate more than anything. Make sure you’re staying in touch with your prospects and even your homeowners. That really will also help avoid people just having negative experiences. I think people really respect people who keep the conversation going. So keep that in mind as well. 

The six tip Jane, you actually talked about this a little bit as well when we were talking about the fifth one, you mentioned keep going. Don’t let the bad reviews outweigh the good ones. There are probably plenty of good ones that you’ve gotten.

And just because one is negative, that one stands out the most. I think that happens with all of us. It’s really hard to get negative feedback in general, but don’t let it get you down. Keep going. You got to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

 It’s not necessarily a bad thing that you got a bad review. It’s more, how you handle that and how is that reflective then of your company? 

Jane: And if you’re making a mistake and you get a review about it, you’ll probably never make that mistake again. 

Laura: And you’re not going to be perfect. It’s going to happen over and over probably, but hopefully it gets a little better each time and you learn something new each time as well.

 So those were our six tips. I did have a bonus tip that I wanted to share. So we’re talking a lot about bad reviews. We just left off with mentioning the good reviews and there are some really great things that builders can do to help motivate their teams to generate more good reviews.

 Yes, we have to deal with the bad ones, but we also want to celebrate the good ones and we want to get more of them if possible. So there are some things that you can do. We’ve had builders create really cool internal programs that help motivate their internal team to generate more reviews. You can give this program a fun name.

We have a builder who has named their program Mission Five Star because they’re on a mission to get five star reviews. So this program can consist of emails that go out to the team weekly. You can have incentives, contests. If someone gets a five star review from one of their homeowners, then they get a gift card or something like that.

You can make it fun. So it’s not just like, “oh, I have to try really hard and ask all these people to give me a review.” It can be fun and turned into something that the team has bought into and that the team is excited about. So I just wanted to share that there are ways that you can have more good reviews to outweigh these bad ones that comes from.

We’ve created some of these programs and I love doing them. It’s really fun to work on some creative projects that aren’t necessarily homeowner facing. They’re more team facing. So that’s always fun to work on that type of creative and help our builder teams be even better than they are. 

All right. So six tips and a bonus tip. How to handle bad reviews. If you have any questions for us, you can reach out to anyone on our team. Jane, like I said, is a rockstar on the social team dealing with reviews all day long on social, so Jane’s your girl. 

Jane: Thank’s Laura! 

Laura: Yeah. We’re excited to share this info with you guys and happy to have you listen to the podcast.

So we’ll see you next time. Any parting words, Jane? 

Jane: It’s been great. Thanks so much for having me on the podcast and tune in next time. Bye everyone. 

Laura: See ya, guys!. 

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