The funeral home industry is a sensitive one. Funeral service providers have to ensure they account for the emotional state and needs of their customers while simultaneously getting the job done. This can lead to unpredictable interactions with customers where even the briefest moment of perceived insensitivity might send your customer reeling. Funeral homes are usually staffed with a team with a keen understanding of how to receive grieving clients. However, sometimes misunderstandings occur.
In previous years, a customer’s negative funeral home review would be shared with the owner or manager and the complaint logged. But nowadays, funeral homes have to pay particular attention to how their customers experience their services as the reviews will no doubt end up on the internet.
Today, most companies have moved their businesses online. It’s evident that the majority of consumers use the internet to seek out brands and product or service providers they need. This is true for the funeral home industry, too. Consequently, your online community can freely comment about your funeral services, your customer service and your management of their needs across various online review platforms. These reviews of your company can be seen by any potential customer.
One negative comment about your brand can do some real damage to your online reputation, ultimately impacting your bottomline. While you can do your utmost to offer each customer stellar service, there’s a high possibility a customer will publish a negative review about your funeral home. When this occurs, the way you respond is critical as it can significantly influence the impact of the negative review on your business. This is why you should know how to respond to negative reviews.
Importance of Funeral Home Online Reviews
Several studies have revealed that online reviews can drastically affect consumers’ purchasing decisions. Here are some key statistics about online business reviews:
• 91 percent of online users check client ratings and business reviews
• More than 67 percent of consumers are influenced by online reviews
• You can lose around 71 percent of potential clients because of poor client ratings or negative feedback
• You can also potentially lose 22 percent of your current customer base because of bad reviews
• 97 percent of consumers change their perception after reading negative comments from other people
• 96 percent of unsatisfied customers don’t complain directly to business owners but rather leave negative feedback online
These figures only underpin how crucial it is to effectively manage your funeral home reviews. By professionally handling and responding to your negative reviews and feedback, you demonstrate your company believes in offering superior customer service. This is also why many funeral homes are hiring a professional reputation management agency. A reputation management company has the expertise and the sophisticated software to address all of your online reviews, both positive and negative. Most importantly though, these professionals can also help you bounce back from negative reviews.
While tackling negative review responses is a challenge for most brands, as a funeral home business owner you simply can’t overlook this customer feedback. Funeral home reviews, both positive and negative ones, can be your strongest asset or greatest liability. It’s imperative to know how to respond to those negative reviews because it’s an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive interaction with a customer.
The Pivotal Impact of Responding to Funeral Home Online Reviews
Replying to your funeral home reviews is a great way to monitor your online reputation and take advantage of the feedback provided by your clients. Positive or negative, your funeral home reviews are providing you with deep insights into your customers experience with your company and team.
Here are some of the reasons to stay proactive when it comes to funeral home online reviews:
• Negative Reviews Remain Online
In the past, people had to reach out to the service provider via phone call or client meetings to have their negative review or complaint heard and acknowledged. Regardless of the conflict outcome, these concerns were always discussed in private and the company never had to worry about a tarnished reputation. Today, however, anyone can leave comments about your brand and services online for the entire internet to read. For funeral homes service providers, it’s imperative you keep track of your online reputation to grasp if your reviews are boosting your good name or sending potential customers in the direction of your competitors. Carefully examine each review and piece of feedback. Also, investigate whether the comments are legitimate or not. It’s not unusual for businesses to receive fake reviews from random users. One way to check the legitimacy of feedback is to check the reviewer’s name and see if it appears in your customer database. Remember, you still need to address this publicly. Acknowledge the reviewer politely and clarify the information they provided.
Here’s a good example on how to respond to fake reviews:
This is a lot to take on and many business owners feel overwhelmed at the thought of it, resulting in many online reviewers being ignored. Consider reaching out to a reputation management company if you feel you don’t have the manpower or enough hours in the day to handle the much-needed management of your business reviews.
• Negative Reviews Give Others the Wrong Impression
Ignoring a complaint or bad feedback from a customer sends the wrong message to all of your existing or potential customers. This may also give people the wrong impression about your company, indicating the lack of accountability or integrity. Responding to negative reviews is a good opportunity for you to mitigate this situation and rebuild trust with the customer. Visitors who see the negative review of your funeral home will also see the way you responded to it and that will leave an impression with the visitor. In fact, the right response can be more impressive than a positive review as the majority of consumers appreciate a company that can acknowledge an error and rectify the situation.
• Negative Feedback Can Escalate
One unanswered negative review or customer feedback can escalate quickly and take a toll on your online reputation. Research indicates that people tend to over-share negative commentaries online, creating more activity around a bad, unanswered review than any company would want. Only 33 percent of customers share their good experiences online.
• Negative Reviews Give You More Insights
Monitoring and responding to every comment about your business provides you and your team with indispensable insights. Each bit of feedback can help streamline your operational processes and improve your services in the future.
Google also encourages responding to business reviews as much as you can. In fact, online reviews are one of the key search ranking factors. Responding to reviews, including the negative ones, shows that your funeral home places value on delivering excellent customer service. It also creates more community engagement and boosts your online visibility. As a result, your review responses can lead to more website visitors and more foot traffic of potential customers to your offices.
How to Respond to Negative Reviews
Ongoing negative review response is a fundamental and an activity all professional business owners or managers must undertake. This includes those in the funeral homes industry. People needing funeral services are often cautious when choosing a provider, as the planning of a funeral involves many complex processes. Of course, families are forced to choose only from the pool of funeral homes they can afford, but they will often look to online testimonials before committing to a service provider. This is the easiest and most trusted way your customer believes they can make an informed choice when deciding on a reputable funeral homes service. Apart from your website review page or your social media pages, your previous clients may also provide feedback across other major review sites. People who require funeral home services will look at reviews on review platforms such as Google Local, Angie’s List and Yelp.
You can protect your business from bad reviews by entering into discussions upfront with new customers to ensure they have realistic expectations. Make sure to discuss the value of funeral home service to families you’re dealing with and include associated expenses or other unforeseen issues to expect throughout the process. Many times your new customer is dealing with the passing of a loved one for the first time. Setting realistic expectations will help them understand the process from your end. With an understanding of how your professional relationship with them works, your customer is far less likely to end up unsatisfied after you’ve delivered your services to them.
If you’re concerned about your funeral home’s online reputation, here are some tips on how to respond to negative reviews:
Tip #1: Take the Time to Show You Care
Just like replying to positive reviews, it’s important to be polite at all times. Make sure to use the customer’s name, acknowledge their core concerns and propose different solutions. It’s also imperative to give them other options and opportunities to reach out to you. Provide contact information so that in case of the problem not being resolved online, you can attend to it offline. This shows your customers you’re taking their concerns seriously.
Tip #2: Be Completely Transparent
Responding to negative feedback can be challenging. However, this is also your chance to show empathy and your core business values. Own up to your shortcomings as this indicates integrity and confidence in your ability to resolve the issue. Be careful to not become defensive and always apologize for what happened and acknowledge that the customer was left dissatisfied with your business. Let them know you’re working hard to improve your services so no other customer will have the same or similar experience. Additionally, use your name throughout the communication, too, as this conveys transparency and indicates you truly care.
Tip #3: See the Opportunities
In some ways, people who provide negative feedback online about your services are also doing you a favor. This helps you identify the areas of your business and operations that need some improvements. Yes, accepting criticism and responding politely to attacks can be a real challenge but you can showcase your professionalism by remaining calm and diplomatic. If you view negative feedback as an opportunity for customer engagement and business growth or improvement, it’ll be a lot easier to keep your composure.
Tip #4: Have a Private Conversation
While it’s imperative to publicly address negative feedback, you should still consider having a private conversation with the customer to properly reconcile. After replying to their reviews online, provide your contact information so you can talk to them privately, offer a personal apology and resolve the situation.
Tip #5: Make Extra Effort
It’s important to respond to negative reviews quickly because this indicates you value your customers and their opinion. Then, addressing the problem is not really enough, especially considering a funeral home customer has been through a very emotional experience. Try to go above and beyond to leave them with a positive impression of your business. Remember, your reputation is on the line. Make sure to do everything to turn negative feedback into a positive interaction.
Providing funeral home services is not an easy feat. Managing the operational (somewhat tedious) daily tasks and engaging with emotional, stressed out customers makes for a very busy work day. It’s a tall ask to have to continuously monitor your business’ online reputation on top of an already heavy workload and draining work environment. However, your online reputation also serves as your business’ online lifeline.
To prevent feeling overwhelmed, hire a reputation management agency that will automatically handle all of your online reviews, create a negative review response strategy with care and professionalism and ensure your positive reviews can be found when a user searches for a company like yours.
Working with a trusted reputation management agency can help simplify the entire process for you. You can focus more on your business operations while a professional online reputation management company takes care of your online presence.