As a business owner, there are few occurrences more unwelcome than the proliferation of negative online reviews. Bad online reviews are damaging to any business owner’s ego, but they are hardly just matters of vanity.
Because so many consumers use online review sites to inform their purchasing decisions, companies beset with bad reviews can face dire consequences. This can include drop-offs in sales, increases in refund requests and ultimately a plummeting bottom line.
The good new is, there are ways in which companies can take the classy route to responding to negative reviews as also engage in damage control.
Minimizing the effect of a nasty online review requires companies to know how and when to respond to feedback. Before we go into the respectful and proper way of handling this issue let’s take a look at the very wrong ways of handling criticism
What NOT to do when you receive a bad online review:
Mistake # 1:
Deny the problem exists: when a customer has a complaint, insisting that they’re wrong in a public forum is a big mistake. Even if you are completely convinced that the problem was on their end, you should acknowledge the issue at hand.
Own up to your mistake. In some situations, blame begins to get passed around like a hot potato. During freak accidents or problems caused by outsiders, some companies look for a way to shield themselves from customer frustration.
Mistake # 2:
Argue with the reviewer: It is only natural to feel hurt or angry when someone posts negative criticism about your business. But responding in anger could cripple your reputation permanently because information stays on the internet forever. In other words, never do this.
Mistake # 3:
Do nothing: While a few negative comments are obviously the work of people who just like to say nasty things, for the most part, ignoring bad reviews is in the hopes they’ll go away is a poor strategy. It sends a message that your business doesn’t care when people have negative experiences.
What to do when you receive a bad online review:
In order to take action against negative online reviews, you have to be aware of any that exist.
It’s important to monitor your social media pages and respond to concerns there. But you should also check out major consumer review sites like Yelp to see what people are saying about your business. the simplest way to do this is to set up a Google Alert for your business name. You can use a free tracking tool like Social Mention to keep up with online reviews.
But for when you do find those less than stellar reviews:
Take an objective look: If the review or comment is obviously not serious, or if the poster is using anger and abusive language, your best option is probably to ignore it. If possible, have it removed. Most consumer review sites offer a way to flag or report reviews that violate their terms of service.
Respond with tact: When addressing a negative review, keep it professional. Passive-aggressive or sarcastic comments only fuel the flames. You can choose to respond privately (useful when you disagree with a reviewer’s take on a situation) or publicly, which helps to demonstrate to other readers that you\’re addressing the problem.
Hi all. So sorry, it looks like we\’ve been compromised. Temporarily pausing all posts as we investigate. We’ll update ASAP.
— Buffer (@buffer) October 26, 2013
Apologize and ask for input: Most often, the best response to an upset customer is to say you’re sorry without actually qualifying the apology to redirect the blame toward the reviewer\’s feelings. Admit that a mistake was made and ask what you can do to resolve the situation.
Most importantly, keep it consistent. When you actively respond to negative online feedback about your business, other potential customers can see that you are engaged and that you care about your customers.
With a consistent response policy, you can turn a bad online review into a positive outlook for your business.
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