In our increasingly social world, today’s consumers wield more power than ever before. One of the most significant ways they wield that power? Through online reviews. In fact, according to a BrightLocal survey, 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, 73 percent of consumers are more likely to support businesses with positive reviews, and 49 percent of consumers require at least a four-star rating before choosing where to spend their hard-earned dollars. 

The takeaway for your fitness business? If you’re not including online reputation management as part of your fitness marketing initiatives, you may be be missing out. Here’s a closer look at tips for responding to negative customer reviews, along with how to stay ahead of the customer review curve.

Negative Feedback 101

While your fitness business does its best to keep members happy, it’s not always possible:  Inevitably, a customer will have a negative experience, and will share that negative experience via social media. When it comes to doing damage control, this adage is worth remembering: “It’s not what happens to us that defines us; it’s how we choose to respond.”

In other words, a single bad review won’t make or break your business; however, an inappropriate or inadequate response may make all the difference. After all, you can’t rewind and fix the problem. Nor can you change a customer’s mind. But you can respond in a way that minimizes damage and promises better for the future, including the following:

  • Reflect before responding.

While a prompt response to a poor review is important, a hasty response may do more harm than good. Collect your thoughts before responding, and make sure you’re as informed as possible. Before formulating a response, talk to all relevant parties and seek advice, if necessary. 

  • Don’t get sucked into the negativity.

While negative reviews are likely to send you into defense mode, it’s critical to move forward in the most positive way. Don’t argue. Don’t get caught in a “back and forth” exchange. Keep in mind that anything you write in a public forum to a member isn’t just seen by that member, but by others, as well. If a complaint merits more than a one-and-done apology and/or response, offer to continue the dialogue in a private email or phone conversation.

  • Seize the chance to be better.

At the end of the day, valid negative feedback is an opportunity to do better. When a member offers constructive criticism, accept it, own it, and share your plans to stop it from happening again. Then, put those plans into action.

  • Let it go.

Once you’ve done all you can do to correct the situation and to make sure it won’t happen again, it’s out of your hands. Some customers simply will not be appeased. When you’ve put up your best effort and it’s gotten you nowhere, it’s time to focus your attention on building relationships with more amenable members. (One caveat? If a review is truly defamatory, additional action may be involved in the form of talking to a lawyer.)

One last thing to keep in mind? You can’t manage bad feedback if you’re unaware of it. Monitoring your social media sites can help you optimize your response. 

Put Feedback to Work for You

Ultimately, one of the best ways to mitigate negative feedback is to counter it with positive feedback. Given what we know about the impact of online reviews, why would you sit back, cross your fingers, and hope for the best? Instead, encourage your members to share their experiences. Not convinced that doing so is worth your time? Think again. According to BrightLocal, 68 percent of consumers left business reviews when asked.

Fitness business

Another way to keep negative feedback in check while facilitating positive feedback? Conduct surveys aimed at not only understanding how your customers feel, but also about showing them that you care. Identifying consumer pain points and taking steps to resolve them is both a negative feedback prevention measure and a savvy member retention strategy. 

Ultimately, social media is a tool, and the degree to which it works for you depends on how well you use it. Managing negative feedback and encouraging members to share positive experiences can help you make the most of it.  One of the best ways to get positive feedback? Give your customers what they want. Fitness monitoring technology is at the top of many fitness members’ wish lists. Request a demo today to learn what Accurofit can do for you.