How to Deal with Negative Online Reviews
With the popularity of social media and review websites, businesses are under even more pressure to perform a quality service. While in the old days, an unhappy customer might pass on information to their friends/family about their negative experience with a provider, now there is always the risk they will share it online.
And if it’s online, prospective customers can easily see it and might be turned off.
Related article: What is the impact of positive online reviews for your business?
While you’ll try and provide the same excellent level of service to every customer, there are times when things simply don’t go to plan and you do get a negative review online.
The difficult part is that you may have had 50 happy customers before you had one unhappy customer, but it’s usually the unhappy one that will be running to leave a review on your Google Plus, Facebook or other places.
Quite often we hear from clients who are quite upset having received bad feedback. So how do you deal with getting a bad review?
1. Look at it as an opportunity
The first thought that comes into people’s heads when this happens to them is simply to have the comment removed. However it very difficult to have a review website agree to take a comment down, for obvious reasons. If all the negative reviews were taken down, the review website simply wouldn’t be helpful to visitors.
Instead, view this as an opportunity to showcase your customer service and maybe even show readers your side of the story. We wouldn’t recommend pushing your own view too passionately (avoid getting into a fight) but acting professional and suggesting ways that you could make it up to the individual.
If done correctly, you might be able to convince the person (and the others reading the conversation) that you made an honest mistake and hope to be able to make up for it.
2. Make every effort to resolve the problem
Good customer service should be a priority no matter what industry you are operating in. If someone has a concern about the service provided by your business, you should try to restore the relationship and be polite and mature in all correspondence with the person regardless of their tone. This can win you over customers as it shows that you’re a professional and deal with complaints as such.
3. Try to gain more positive reviews
Nothing mitigates a negative review better than a good number of positive reviews. Positive reviews will push down the negative ones and your customers are likely to ignore a few bad reviews if they see a lot of good ones.
Make it easy for your happy customers to leave reviews. You can even reach out to them and encourage leaving positive comments. Develop a strategy and get creative!
But remember that you should never post fake reviews even though you might be tempted to. Review websites usually have a complex algorithm that is very difficult to fool and some businesses have paid the prices of doing so.
4. Start getting feedback
Good service is all about communication and this is true even after the service has been provided. If you do have the time, consider contacting your customers and make sure they are happy – this can actually reduce the likelihood that they will leave a bad review if they are unhappy.
You’re better off taking care of any tensions and/or making up for a mistake before they get on review websites.
5. Learn from the experience
Even negative feedback is good in some ways because it helps you learn from mistakes and improve over time. If you’re committed to providing the best possible service and making the business successful, a negative review should be of great interest to you – rather than taking it personally and getting stressed, you can use it as motivation to improve.
6. Keep track of your reviews
You should always actively monitor your online reviews. Did someone leave a 5-star review? Or did someone say something negative about your business? Continuously keeping track of the reviews will help you identify online reputation of your business and what your customers are actually thinking about your business.
It will also help you recognise the problems, if any, at the first stage; before another customer faces a similar situation. Using a review monitoring tool might be helpful in this regard.
7. Request for re-evaluation
If a customer had left a negative review and you have remedied the issue for them later, you can politely ask them to change the previous rating. Most of the time the customer will update the review if you sincerely work with them to rectify their problems.
Customers often mention that they changed their review because the issue they had was resolved. This actually shows your other potential customers that you’re serious about your service and creates more trust for your business.
8. Avoid intense engagement in public
Social media or review sites can be seen by everyone. Any interaction you make there with a customer is most likely to be noticed by others. Thus, you should always avoid getting in an intense one to one engagement with a customer who has, perhaps intentionally, given a bad review.
In other words, if after one or two replies you realise that the discussion is not going anywhere constructive, take it to offline. Request the customer to call you in order to resolve the issue.
9. Seek for a third party’s opinion before posting a response
Before responding to a negative review, ask for a third person to read your reply and check if it’s well balanced. Negative reviews often cause anger and you might take things personally. But it will be unwise to reply a customer in an unprofessional tone no matter how unfair their opinions are. Letting a third party double check your replies will help you avoid this and also ensure other customers about your professionalism.
A lot of negative reviews will actually say more about the customer than it will about your service. Perhaps, the thought should be as simple as, they were having a bad day and took it out on you.