When appraising your store’s online reviews, do you often feel like Rodney Dangerfield – “I can’t get no respect?”
When a customer has a positive review, it seems they tend to focus more on the salesperson than the store. “Kristine did a great job of listening and she helped us find a mattress that was both affordable and appropriate for our needs.”
Conversely, if a consumer has a negative experience, it seems they tend to focus on the store as opposed to the staff. “XYZ Mattress is horrible. They give bad advice and don’t know what they’re talking about. A pox upon them!”
So, what’s a storeowner to do? Well, I’m a fan of evaluating and responding to all reviews, but in different manners.
In the case of the positive reviews, thank the customer while also reinforcing the name of your store. Confirm that the service they received (by Kristine) is provided by all of your employees – it’s one of the unique benefits that all customers receive by visiting your business.
For a negative review, turn it away from the store and put your personal face on it. You may wish to reach out to the reviewer in private to see what you can do to fix the situation. If the situation is resolved, reply to their review with the outcome and take ownership. Don’t be argumentative. “Bitter, table for one,” is never a winning tact. Show consumers that you are responsive to their concerns.
Realize that your employees, not your store name, are in most ways the face of your business and a large part of your brand image - customers don’t go to your store and ask to speak with the bricks and mortar. Cinder blocks are great at keeping out the elements and supporting the roof, but they’re not very good at explaining foam hysteresis.
This is why it’s so important to take the time to properly educate and train your sales staff. Make sure they are well mannered. Give them the tools they need to know everything about your product. Turn them into consultants – not sales people.
I’ve heard the argument before that it takes too long to properly train someone and once you do, they’ll want to leave like LeBron and “take their talents to South Beach (or back to Cleveland).” Well, that may be the case, but if you create a pleasant work environment and hire good people, you should have minimal turnover and an overall reduction in the time spent training new people.
However, if a member of your sales force continually generates negative reviews even after you’ve taken the time to address their particular issues and given them the tools to prosper, cut them loose. I’m a fan of second (and third) chances, but if an employee chooses to not adopt your positive way of conducting business, that’s on them. Consistent negative reviews can sink your business faster than Joey Chestnut rips through hot dogs at Nathan’s Famous, and these constant negative reviews will project a lack of care to the consumer.
In the end, it’s better for you as the owner to suffer the slings and arrows of negative online reviews and address them and their underlying causes, while at the same time continue to let your employees receive their online praise. Like Dangerfield, you may not end up personally receiving much respect, but you’ll be one step closer to running a prosperous business.