Don’t Let Negative Reviews Break You

Whether you’re a small or large company, you live or die by your reputation. Most of reputation management is focused on pushing down negative search results — in particular, negative reviews.down thumb image

Responding to your negative reviews may attempt to bridge the gap between how a company perceives itself and how others view it. But does your company successfully follow through with this? If you haven’t began this process, you could be put in a negative spotlight.

There’s a continuously growing amount of outlets — especially the Internet — for customers to voice their opinions, which has led to an increase of feedback being left about businesses. According to a survey from Spherion Staffing Services, when consumers have a poor customer service experience:

  • 36 percent are willing to write a complaint directly to the company
  • 25 percent will express their opinions via social media
  • 19 percent will write an online review
  • 9 percent will contact the media to report it

A negative customer experience review can spread just as fast as a positive one. Cutting corners with customer service usually results in a decrease of loyalty and customer satisfaction, so don’t let this occur.

“If you handle it right, the dialog between you and your customers can become the lifeline of your business,” says Whitney Wood, managing partner of the Phelon Group. “To establish and maintain a healthy flow, customer feedback must result in change your customers can see. Change is the most powerful currency to reward vocal and consultative customers.”

Here are some quick do’s and don’ts:

Do become aware: To respond to a review, you must be aware of it. This means that you or someone within your company should be watching for and/or be notified when a customer reviews you. Look into your social media platforms and reviews sites to know the ins and outs of the site rules so that you can be on top of reviews once they occur.

Don’t pass it off: Every review, whether positive or negative, needs a response to it. Always be prepared for a crisis, even if it isn’t one. Before you even look at the reviews, come up with worst-case scenarios and what the best remedies and plans of action online would be for that event. Proactive reputation management helps you deal with the crises before they occur. These tools can help communicate your stance on the issue, address press concerns and explain your next steps.

Don’t be short: We all know that being polite is a top priority in face-to-face customer service communication, and it’s the same for online. Take time to write a real note to the individual writing the review. Understand their point of view, and let them know you read what they wrote. In every response you should introduce yourself, thank them for their business and feedback, apologize for the inconvenience that may have occurred and outline what can happen from that point. If you’re responding publicly, suggest having them call or email you to further discuss the complaint in further. This way, whether the complaint is big or small, it’s not out in the open for the public to read because every situation could be handled differently.

Do act on the review: Research and address the legitimate concern of the review. It may be helpful to respond publicly for the source of the review, but also privately so that you can address what is really going on. Let the reviewer know that you’re going to take appropriate action to get to the bottom of the complaint. Putting yourself in their shoes and understanding their point of view on the matter will show customers that you care about them.

Do encourage discussion: Don’t get discouraged about negative reviews. Make sure your customers know that you have an open forum for their views to be displayed, whether it be Yelp, Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. They and you will be able to learn more about each other. This will show your customers that you care about their feedback and will work to improve your business based on their comments.

With these tips, you’ll be successful in managing your reputation. It’s not the complaint or poor review that defines your reputation, but rather the way it’s handled.

To hedge against negative reviews, see our article on frequently made trade show mistakes and trade show display errors to avoid.

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