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Green Industry PRO Magazine Interview – Dealing With Negative Reviews

Gregg: Negative feedback. Obviously, you’re hoping this isn’t going to happen and it’s probably a smidgen of a chance it will because your followers are your friends and your current customers, but I’m sure it does pop up from time to time. How do you deal with that random negative post on your Facebook page or what have you?

Andrew: That’s a great question. I’d actually like to expand this a little bit and not just negative posts on your Facebook page but negative reviews perhaps left for you on Yelp, or on Google Places, or any of these other review sites. Why don’t we take it back a little bit broader than just…

Gregg: That makes sense.

Andrew: Because the approach that you’re going to take and the response that you’re going to have is going to be very similar across each of these platforms. One of the main differences is that if somebody posts something negative on your Facebook page, you do have the opportunity to delete their post and you can ultimately, if they’re harassing you, you can ban them. However, I’m not recommending that. I’m just highlighting that that’s an option that you have on Facebook that you do not have on Google Local, Google Places, which is your Place page. This is different than Google Plus Local for Business. It’s different than what you can do on Yelp. You can’t delete those reviews. You can, however, respond to them. If somebody posts something negative on Facebook, you’re going to respond in much the same way. If they’re really hateful, or if they’re cursing, if they’re using foul language and they’re posting on your page, delete them. Don’t deal with them. Delete them. Ban them. They can’t post on your page again. However, if they’re posting a real issue, I would address it publicly. Address it publicly on Facebook and respond in the same way that you might on Google Places or on Yelp.

There are a couple things that we should touch on. First is you’re going to get negative reviews, no matter what. No matter how good your service is, no matter how awesome everybody on your crew is, you’re going to get negative reviews. At my company, I actually make a joke about it that we’ll have companies that we’ll be doing SEO for them, we’ll be doing their social media, they will get a negative review on Google Local. I will typically send my client an email and say, “Congratulations. You’ve made it. You’ve got your first negative review. That means typically one of your competitors is probably irritated that you’re cutting in on their turf.” What we see, quite frequently, is if you drill down and look at the other reviews that you get, if your service is really good, what you’re going to find is you’re going to get negative reviews from your crappy little competitors in your market who are bitter that they can’t make their lawn care, or their landscaping, company as successful as you have.

You’re going to get negative reviews. Oftentimes, they’re going to come from competitors. But before you assume that, the first question that you need to ask yourself is, “Is this a legitimate review? Is this a legitimate criticism?” Be honest with yourself. Are there legitimate service problems in your business that need to be addressed? Is there a weak area in your business that you need to implement an internal process that will let you avoid that in the future and will eliminate that problem from being experienced by any of your other customers? That should be the first thing you should ask. It should not be, “How do I get this negative review removed?” That’s typically what I see. Customers will call us, “We got a negative review.” The first thing I ask them, “You think it’s legitimate? Do you think there’s a real service problem or do you just think it’s a customer that’s a customer of a competitor that’s angry?” Be honest with yourself because the feedback that you get from your customers and in your reviews is very valuable. If it’s true, it’s very valuable because you want to know how to make your business better. You want this feedback from your customers. You want to know how to improve. You want to know how to be better than any of your competitors. Be honest with yourself, first of all.

Andrew: We already mentioned competitors. This is going to happen. Let me give you a perfect example. One of our clients, they got a negative review. We saw it before our client did. I went to see who this reviewer was. I drilled down into the reviews that this gentleman had left on, in this case, it was Google Places. I determined after about five minutes that it was a guy running a really crappy competing lawn care company who had left six other negative reviews on everybody else that was showing up on the first page of Google. One positive review, his only positive review was on his own lawn care company. That happens more often than not. What we did, I documented all this for the client and sent an email to Google and they did, in fact, I don’t know if they terminated his account, but they did remove all the negative reviews and they’re completely gone. There are ways to approach it, but you don’t want to always approach it and respond to clients’ negative reviews saying, “Are you a competitor?” You want to respond in a very positive light.

Another type of negative review that you might get are really angry customers that don’t have anything better to do. They might have a legitimate complaint, or they might be the type of customer that you really went out of your way to help them, but they ended up still leaving you a negative review. These are the type of customers where, if you drill down and look at the other reviews that they’ve left, probably the high majority of reviews that they leave online are negative. They rarely leave a positive review, and they just use online review forms to bad mouth the companies that they don’t like. They’re just angry individuals. Some people are like this. Some people are just jerks, and there isn’t a lot that you can do for these unhappy people. You’re going to get reviews like that from time to time. Even after you’ve gone out of your way and solved their problem or tried to solve their problem, they’re still going to leave you a negative review.

How do you deal with this? The number one key is to never, ever argue publicly with a customer about a negative review. Ever. Never do it. You are not going to win, and you’re just going to look bad. I know what it’s like to get a negative review online, and it irritates you when you know that you’re busting your butt and you’re giving 110% and you’re really trying to deliver for your client, but you get a negative review, and it gets you right in your stomach. You can’t respond on an emotional level. You need to respond in a way that attempts to rectify the situation, that attempts to fix their problem whether it’s legitimate or not. Never argue with them, and attempt to solve their problem. Even if they’re very disrespectful, always, always take the high ground. This is the key to taking a negative review and flipping it in a positive light. When other people read that negative review and see your response right below that, they’ll see how professional you are in how you responded, and that you are professional. You’ve addressed their issues, and you’ve attempted to fix their problem to the best of your ability. People using the web, they understand this. People know that not every review is legitimate, so if you respond in a positive manner and you’re professional and you’re really trying to address their problem and try and fix it, then people who are reading your reviews, they’re going to get that. They’re going to see that you’re professional. They’re going to see that you’re on top of your game.

This is where it’s real important to have somebody that’s monitoring the different sites where you have reviews. This is beneficial when you hire a company to handle your marketing. We monitor our clients’ review pages and let them know if there’s any negative posts. Same with Facebook. We monitor those for our clients. Make sure that they’re not getting bad mouthed on their pages, or if there’s any service issues that they need to address immediately. Always be professional. Let me give you an example. There’s a customer, a legitimate customer of one of our clients left a really outrageous negative review. They went on and on for three paragraphs about how horrible this company was. How terrible they were and went so far as to lie and say that the company didn’t address the problem and fix the problem. How we approached it when we drafted the response, and thought went into this, we responded absolutely positively.

Let’s just say their name was Joseph. In this particular case, we responded in a fashion saying, “Joseph, thank you for bringing this to our attention. Remember we have a rock solid no fuss money back guarantee and you can look on our website at www.lawncarecompany.com/guarantee. We stand by this 100%.” Unfortunately, in this particular case, they didn’t have a record of this customer in their database with their customers. They weren’t 100% positive it was a real review, but we still approached it from the same angle. Positively. We continued on, “Unfortunately, we don’t have a record of an account under the name of Joseph Smith in our system, but maybe it’s under your spouse’s name. Could you please call us at 555-5555. I will have a tech sent out immediately today, and we will fix this problem. Thank you so much for contacting us.”

Gregg: That’s good.

Andrew: That shows anybody reading your reviews and seeing this negative review and this guy trashing you, whether he’s real or not, in this particular case it wasn’t a real person because they never got another response from it. Nobody ever called, and that was that. Because of the way we responded and because we pointed out that we have a super guarantee and we stand by it and we’re going to send out a tech today because we take this very seriously, it just shows that you’re a very professional company and that, even though you got one negative review, I can still do business with you because if I’m going to have a problem with your service, I know you’re going to address it the same day that I need help.

Gregg: Good example.

Andrew: It’s a lot to take in but I think we went pretty deep there.

Gregg: This is an over-hyped topic, but maybe not so much. It’s an important topic, the whole idea of social media and Internet marketing in general, and you’ve helped our listeners a great deal by getting them set on a path where they can implement a strategy, based on their return on their investment and making sure that it works as a component to an overall marketing communication strategy. We appreciate that, Andrew. We’re going to get you back in a week or so, and we’re going to talk about the future of Internet search marketing. A lot going on there. In the meantime, how can our listeners get a hold of you? Your website’s LawnCareMarketingExpert.com. How else can they get in touch with you?

Andrew: They can also call me directly at 786-309-7898. If I’m out of the office, they can leave a message with one of our account managers and they’ll get it to me, and I’ll contact you back. Also, if they’re interested, I have a free guide that they can download. It’s “11 Things to Watch Out For When Choosing an SEO Company.” Oftentimes, people get burnt by choosing the wrong company. They can download that at https://goo.gl/JAL64. That’s just a shortened URL that will take you right to the guide, and there are 11 great tips in there on things to watch out for and avoid wasting money on the wrong company.

Gregg: That’s good advice. I get emails all day long from these companies trying to help us with our website. It’s a lot to sift through. Great offer there. Listeners, go download that report and, Andrew, we will talk to you in a week or so about The Future of Search Marketing. Take care, buddy.

Andrew: Thank you.

Andrew Pototschnik is the founder of Lawn Care Marketing Expert, the largest online marketing agency in North America specializing in marketing strategies for the lawn care and landscaping industries.

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