Your online reputation is based on the unfiltered opinion of your customers, who end up influencing other potential customers by leaving positive or negative reviews about your business online. While your goal should always be to have every one of your customers beaming about how great you are, even the greatest business owner will inevitably run into circumstances that lead to someone leaving a negative review. Which begs the question: What’s the best way to deal with a negative review?
Step One: Deep Breath. Relax.
This is possibly the most important step in dealing with a negative review ‘ and frankly, also the step most business owners get painfully wrong. If someone leaves a negative review about your business, chances are it wasn’t personal. However, many business owners take negative reviews personally, and understandably so — They’re proud of the service they deliver, so when someone makes a public comment about that service being lackluster, those business owners feel threatened, hurt and upset.
In these cases, the most important tip for handling a negative review is to try to remove emotion from the equation. Reacting emotionally tends to lead to an over-the-top response, which usually just adds fuel to the fire.
Instead, take a deep breath, try to take a step back, and think about where the customer may have felt slighted (whether they are right or wrong).
Step Two: Respond Promptly
Once you’ve taken the time to consider all angles of the situation, it’s time to respond. You don’t want to air out an entire conversation in a public forum, so start with a simple, generic response. Rebecca Hussey, Market Hardware’s Director of Account Management, suggests the following responses:
- Thank you for voicing your concerns, [NAME] – we are looking into your account, and will be in touch to work towards a resolution.
- I’m sorry to hear that you weren’t happy with your service, [NAME] – could we contact you directly to try to resolve the error?
Posting some version of these will ‘buy you some time’ to get to the bottom of what may have happened. It will also show the disgruntled customer that you’re aware there is a situation occurring, and that you’re trying to sort it out. Perhaps more importantly, anyone else that sees the negative review will know that you care enough to address anyone’s concerns about your business.
Step Three: The non-confrontational confrontation
Now that you’ve thought rationally about the situation and indicated to the disgruntled customer that you’re looking into it, it’s time to follow up directly. Rule #1: Be as polite as possible (this is why Step One cannot be skipped). Showing that you genuinely care and value the customer’s feedback will help get a positive resolution. Fact is, in many cases, the customer just wants to have their voice heard (some people just need to vent ‘ or have their medications changed!) Being receptive to what they have to say might be all it takes for them to remove the review. Which brings us to the next step…
Step Four: Removing the Review (optional!)
For starters, remember that most review sites won’t let you take down a negative review, and probably won’t even bother to investigate a potentially false negative review. It would just take up too much of their time to sift through every negative review to find out which ones have legitimate claims in them.
So, based on how well you completed Steps One through Three, you’ll have to make an on-the-fly decision about this step. If you feel like you’ve had a positive conversation with your formerly disgruntled reviewer, and you’ve addressed their issues to find a way to make it up to them, it may be appropriate to ask them to edit or remove their negative review. Just proceed with caution. You don’t want to undo any goodwill you may have re-established.
Step Five: Getting Positive Reviews
Whatever the outcome ends up being for the first several steps, the number one strategy when it comes to combatting negative reviews is to consistently encourage your many happy customers to leave positive reviews. One blemish won’t have much of a negative effect when surrounded by several glowing reviews, and the fact that reviews help your search rankings makes this an added bonus. Try to stay in the habit of encouraging your customers to leave you reviews online or even consider sending out an email blast with a link to different review sites (Google being a priority).
Your online reputation is vital to your business’ success. It affects your online marketing strategy, so don’t take it lightly. Monitor the popular review sites regularly, and make sure you follow these directions closely if you do happen to run into a negative review along the way.
This article was written by Market Hardware’s Alain Parcan. If you have questions about online reviews, SEO, or other Web Marketing topics, you can reach Alain at [email protected] or reach anyone on his web expert team at 888-381-6925.