Dealing With Negative Reviews

It goes without saying that business owners strive to offer the best product and service to their customers. But, being human, we sometimes fall short. Unfortunately, the customers that are unhappy now have a public forum to take their negative reviews to.  Let’s face it, we will make at least one person unhappy at some point in our careers.  Many people, myself included, look to reviews as a measure as to whether or not we will give our business to a company. So, staying on top of these reviews are crucial. That being said, there are ways to handle those negative reviews that you will, undoubtedly, get.

First and foremost, try to avoid a negative customer out of the gate. Supposing the customer stated their complaint on-site or via phone call, do everything possible to handle it right away. Rectifying the problem quickly not only makes the customer happy, but also avoids more work on your part.

For the remainder that you don’t get to remedy right away, here are some tips:

*Assess the complaint to see if there’s truth to it. You need to have an open-mind and be willing to admit there may have been a real issue. On the other hand, not everyone is honest or are looking for a freebie and some people are just never happy. If there was a true problem, fix it, take measures so it doesn’t happen again, and move on. If there was a resolution to the problem, ask if they are willing to take the bad review down or at least revise it.

*Respond to your complainant immediately. Acknowledging the complaint first, apologizing next, and look for a feasible solution to make them happy. The goal being to repair the relationship and keep the customer.

*If possible, handle the matter privately. While, the complaint was recorded publicly, asking for a phone number or email address will keep you out of a public hearing.

*On the contrary, should you need to address the issue publicly, stay diplomatic. Offer your side of the story without being argumentative. People want to be heard and feel important. Simply owning the criticism goes a long way, in and of itself. In your reply, incorporate the positives about your business. You might say something like “Our goal for the last __ years has always been making customers happy. We’ve been successful in that but know we’re not perfect.”. This recognizes their complaint, admits room for improvement, and tells them you’re not a fly by night company.

*Keep track of online review sites. You will not get notifications on all reviews that are given. Therefore, you (or someone you put in charge of your online presence) will need to be privy to what sites are out there. Yelp, Google, and Facebook are only the beginning.

*Be sure the complaint is from a “real” customer and not a competitor. An unfortunate part of online reviews is that rival businesses take advantage of being behind a screen and bad mouthing your business. There are ways for many review sites to confirm this for you. If you don’t recognize the person’s name, check into it.

*Last but not least, ask for good reviews. Regretfully, more people are vocal about bad experiences than they are about good ones. If you’ve provided good service, ask your customer to share their experience on your Facebook page or review site. And be sure to put these on your website as well.

The internet has made the world a much smaller place. Depending on your outlook, this can either be a good thing or a bad thing. While navigating the world of technology, try to embrace the positives to make your business even better while equipping yourself to handle the downsides.

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