No matter how you choose to run your business, it is inevitable that at some point or another, you will face the tough situation of getting a negative online review. While it may be tempting to fire back in self-defense, or to wallow in self-pity, those reactions will only compound the criticism you are trying to escape. Instead, it is best that you learn how to handle negative reviews, so that you can make the best of them, for the good of your business. Here is a guide to the best way to respond to a negative online review:
Take the reviewer’s perspective. Sure, it may be hard to take, but the truth is this: most reviews have some basis in fact, even if they are exaggerated. Therefore, it is in your best interest to read between the lines when examining negative reviews. It could be a great opportunity for you to improve your business. Plus, taking some time to consider the other perspective is also a great way to step back and breathe some before formulating a response.
Reply. Don’t ever ignore a bad review. Take the time to provide a thoughtful response. Your business will look much better for it, even in the face of harsh criticism.
Leave emotion out of it. Skip on the defensive, self-justifying, or offensive remarks and maintain a calm, friendly, and business-like tone when you reply to a negative review. Remember that other potential customers will read your response, and behave yourself in a manner you can be proud of down the line – a manner that speaks for your business in a positive way.
Sympathize. You don’t have to apologize if you are truly not at all at fault. However, you still need to acknowledge that you feel bad that the customer had an upsetting experience with your business. You may say something like, “This business prides itself on customer service, and it upsets me to know that you are not happy with your experience working with us.”
Provide a solution. It is a great idea to offer the reviewer a coupon and ask for a chance to redeem yourself (or your business reputation, that is). For example, if the reviewer complained that your representative was late, offer a coupon for the next service, and promise the representative will be on time.
False reviews. If a review is illegal, irrelevant to your business, or an outright falsification, then you can report it to the site administrator (or flag it) to have it reviewed.
Your business’ online reputation can literally make or break your business success. Why’s that? Because, statistically speaking, around 90 percent of all consumers use the Internet to research businesses when they are looking for a product or service. Your online reputation will determine whether those consumers choose you or one of your competitors. You can also be sure that if you do not manage your online reputation, it will be managed by other people, who will inevitably post reviews, comment on your business in forums and social media sites, publish blog write-ups concerning your business, and more. For this reason, you need to do everything you can to ensure that what people see when they find your business online is as positive as possible. How do you do that? Here are three helpful tips to make sure your online reputation is protected:
Monitor your reputation. Make use of social media monitoring tools like HootSuite, and web monitoring tools like Google Alerts, to find out what others are saying about you, when they say it. When you know what you are facing, it makes it much easier to address it in a timely manner, and also to assess your best approach.
Participate. It is inevitable that people are going to talk about your business (if you are doing things right). Your best bet is to involve yourself in the conversation. Make it a point to respond to both positive and negative feedback, and also to volunteer information that will help keep online conversations about your business going. Establish your social media presence, maintain a website, write a business blog, or more – the possibilities are really only limited by your imagination (and the amount of effort you are willing to put in). Just remember that participation is key.
Optimizing your responses. Once you have developed the habit of monitoring your online reputation and have established yourself as a willful participant in the development of your online reputation, you need to make sure you are participating in a way that is most conducive to bettering that reputation. As previously mentioned, participation is key. However, there are some best practices to consider, especially when it comes to handling negative items: respond in a timely manner (NEVER ignore negative feedback), be diplomatic and fair, avoid using a defensive or demeaning tone (stay positive!), and offer viable solutions.