Dealing with scathing online reviews is never fun or easy. These reviews aren’t simply words that appear on a website like Google Places or Yelp, they can be a real threat to your business. In some cases, the review can be completely unfair. In other cases, a mistake might have been made. We are all human and mistakes tend to happen from time to time. Regardless of the validity of the bad review, as a business owner you have the responsibility to resolve the issue to protect your businesses reputation.
Sometimes reading bad reviews pointed towards our businesses or us personally can make us see red. Some of us might want to scream and holler and tell those reviewers where they can go. If this is you, take a moment to breathe. Putting fuel on an already blazing fire is just going to send it spiraling out of control. Here are a few words of wisdom that will help you turn a negative review into a positive experience.
You can turn a negative review into a positive experience by engaging in a constructive way and showing that your business is genuine. Most people aren’t looking for perfection online. People are attracted to companies that give genuine responses and show some humanity. Your business can gain respect if you respond to a bad review in a helpful and pleasant way. Of course, it’s not always easy to stay pleasant when your business has been verbally attacked. If you have to, vent to a trusted person offline first, and then collect your thoughts before you respond. Don’t get defensive, even if the reviewer is completely wrong. Acknowledge the person who is complaining and tell them you appreciate their feedback. Turn the comment around by highlighting your strengths and keep it as human as possible. Try to build a positive image for those who might read it.
Don’t Ignore Them
When a bad review isn’t addressed people start to think that you aren’t listening. In their minds your business doesn’t care about them. Even bad reviews from over a year ago can come back to haunt your business if not addressed. You have an opportunity to turn disgruntled customers into avid advocates.
Encourage Positive Reviews
Take the initiative and ask your clients for positive reviews. If satisfied clients are eager to share their positive feedback with you, chances are they will be happy to share them with their friends and family too.
There can be a silver lining with negative reviews. You can choose to look at these reviews as opportunities to identify weaknesses and improve your services. Negative reviews can show you the areas where you can improve. When you discover what bothers your clients you can take steps to remedy it.
Maybe your technicians aren’t getting to their scheduled appointments on time. Now that you know there is a timing issue you can change the way you schedule appointments.
When you come across negative reviews that help you improve your business model thank them! Let them know you were able to implement a strategy that improved that service.
If you are going to take up a complaint, make sure you follow through, as fast as possible. Stay in constant contact. Don’t tell the reviewer you will look into it and fail to get back in touch with them the following day. Failing to follow through in a timely manner will just cause further irritation making the situation that much worse. Don’t promise solutions you can’t deliver! No one likes empty promises.
Okay, so maybe you already knew about these methods and you are still having a hard time with negative reviews. Let’s dig a little deeper.
When you get a negative review don’t just skim through it, you can miss a lot of data that can really help your response. Ask yourself some of the following questions:
- When did this happen?
- Where did it happen?
- What was the main cause of discomfort?
- Is your company responsible?
- Is it something you can’t control?
- Was the review funny or really angry?
- Are there any witnesses that can give you additional feedback (employees, other customers. etc.)?
These are little pieces of information that can help you get a clearer understanding of what happened and if your company needs to may any changes.
Take a moment to talk to anyone mentioned in the review, ask them for their take on the incident. Determine if there were any circumstances that could have caused the problem. Look for issues you can explain, or causes that may have caused the complaint.
Researching the customer leaving the review can also help you form a response. Some of them may be anonymous, but some people put their information on display. Do a little research.
- Do you have their customer record?
- What services did they use?
- Is this a funny person writing for kicks or is this someone who tries to be thoughtful?
- How much interaction has this customer had with your company?
- Who did they interact with?
If there isn’t enough information in the negative review to give you a good idea on what happened and how you can fix it just ask the reviewer. Your first response can be something like this:
“I am so sorry that you had a negative experience with our company. We are more than happy to look into this incident to make sure it never happens again. I would love to speak to you directly. Please call me at 800-555-5555.”
Keep in mind that is just an example, I can’t give you the miracle response that will magically turn every negative review into a positive experience. The response you give should reflect your personality. It should match your companies brand and be catered to fit the personalities of your audience. Good luck in your efforts to improve reviews and deal with problem ones.