The most natural thing any serious customer can do before deciding to fully commit to a purchase is scour the internet for some reviews. Which is to say you have the sole responsibility of managing your online reputation.
A great of majority of the customers you get will go ahead and check out your business on Yelp, Google Reviews, Angie’s List and Yahoo’s Local Listing. If you’ve been careful with how you attend to your customers’ needs, then rest assured a good number of the customers you serve will put out a positive word for your business.
But once in a while, a dissatisfied customer, armed with anonymity, will rush to these review sites and leave behind a negative review. Such reviews sting. It doesn’t matter if it’s one amongst thousands of positive reviews, the feeling is always personal — imagine pouring all your energy into something, making sure you’re doing everything right, but then someone comes along and trashes all that effort.
They’re quick to conclude and leave a stain on your reputation without considering the harm.
No matter how careful you try to be that’s bound to happen at some point. But no need to panic — you can’t please anyone. Better, an occasional negative review makes you look more genuine.
And there’s a silver lining to it — every time an online customer takes their sweet time to draft a not-so-flattering review for your business or product, that comes as an opportunity for you to do the following list of things:
The first mistake most marketers and web owners do is only comment on positive reviews and leave the rest. As a matter of fact, it’s recommended that you comment on both. But that’s NOT where it ends.
Make a point to reach out to the customer directly and dig out for more information as to what brought about the negative comment. Go ahead and ask them about what didn’t satisfy them and if there’s any way to fix it.
Offer a discount, free coupon, or free service
After reaching out to the customer and finding out what pushed them to comment negatively about your business or product, the next thing you do is offer to fix the problem. If they weren’t satisfied with the quality of service they received, you can offer them a free one on condition that they go back and post a second review about how you responded to their concerns.
In whatever you do, don’t push them to remove the first review, but post a second one detailing how their issues were addressed and if they were satisfied the second time they got to work with you.
Redouble Your Efforts
The point is to get as many positive reviews as it’s humanly possible to bury the negative ones. You want to reach out to every happy customer you get and ask them to consider leaving behind a review. While you wouldn’t have previously bothered to ask anyone to review your services, you might want to do it this time to crank up the number of positive reviews you have on site.
Allow them to Review you Directly on Your Site
Some customers just want a room to vent. Meaning, if you can allow them to review your products or services from your site instead, what you’ll be doing is holding them back from running to any of these big review sites to drop a negative comment.
This is important as you have total control over the reviews you have on your site, but little to none over those on a third party site.
Maintain a Good Reputation
The only surefire way to avoid attracting negative reviews for some of the products or services you offer on your site is to work on maintaining a good online reputation. Not an easy task, but it’s totally worth it when majority of the customers you serve have a positive word to throw in for your business and products.
90 percent of all marketers and web owners have admitted to handling their own reputation, according a recent survey conducted by Referral Rock. From this, a good number of them admit to using a review software, with Trust Pilot being the most common option out there.
Essentially, lots of them prefer using a reputation management software because it allows them to handle the negative comments that some of their customers leave behind.
Be Strategic on How to Get the Results You Want
The strategy you employ to attract positive reviews matters a whole lot, considering things aren’t going to magically work on their own.
Starts with planning beforehand on how you’ll be handling negative reviews should one of your customers decides to trash talk your business. In whatever you do, you certainly don’t want to be caught off guard. You have to be creative enough to figure out something way before one of your customers decides to do the expected.
That’s where SEO comes in. When customers search for your business, odds are most of them won’t have the time to scroll past the tenth page trying to dig out for more information about your business or line of products or services.
One good example is Google itself. One thing you can be sure is that the platform receives a lot of flak online. But if you try to search the word Google, that’s NOT the first thing that pops up, because the platform has invested a great deal in ranking informational content about itself.
You could take a cue from them. Instead of waiting for your site’s reviews to dominate, get to work on SEO instead by feeding search engines with lots of valuable content. This is meant to push negative comment further down the SERPs, thus reducing the chances of someone accidentally bumping across one of them online.
Shift Your Focus to Brand Reputation
One of your customers may decide to negatively review one of your products or services, but if you managed to establish a strong brand reputation, then it’s safe to assume the negative review won’t have much impact on your performance as a business.
Start by developing a working relationship with community leaders, press outlets, and other organisations. Make sure they trust your business well enough that they can put forward a positive recommendation for it. This often works if your brand is trustworthy and reliable in terms of quality.
As you’re soon to find out, third party endorsements have a way of lending credibility to both your brand and products — better than you can even achieve through ads.
Brand reputation comes in various forms. First it’s through how you publicly respond to customers’ concerns online. If you’re rude, often sarcastic, potential customers will be quick to peg your business as unprofessional and NOT serious with how it handles its operation. One form is through brand endorsement. If an authority figure can trust your business enough to endorse it to potential customers and clients, then rest assured a great majority of them will take that as a reason enough to trust you.
Lastly, what is published around your brand? Start by checking out with online review sites. What do they have to say about your products or brand in general?
Be Careful With Your Tone and Voice
If you’ve ever met a gracious person who knows how to weigh their words. They know what ought to be said and the kind of things that are better off swept under the rag.
Through their words and how they conduct themselves, it’s easy to conclude that they’re indeed kind, truthful, and worth of your respect and kindness. You can easily tell the person is considerate enough to care for other people. They’re empathetic, and know how to shift their angle and consider looking at things from other people’s perspective.
That’s the personality you should adopt when holding an online discussion or responding to raised concerns on behalf of your business. You have to fit in your customer’s shoe and address things from their angle. You want to be empathetic enough to feel their pain and sympathise with them, offering to fix the problem for them with the first chance you get.
Your primary focus isn’t on the customer, but all those that will be reading through the discussion. While you’re doing this to also get the customer to soften up, you also want the potential customers lurking around to look at you as someone concerned — and that the negative comment thrown about was due to a misunderstanding that you’re working to fixing. In which case, you have to be warm and very appreciative of the fact that the customer even considered airing it out. Thank them and make them feel like they’ve done something positive, one that will be helping you prevent the problem from ever happening again.
Avoid Using Canned Messages
You’re better off NOT responding than copy-pasting some of the responses you make in response to other customers’ concerns. You can’t be that lazy, and NO matter the number of responses you get, you don’t want to be that lazy crook that doesn’t find it necessary to take a few minutes of their precious time to read through a customer’s concern and respond accordingly.
Customers read through comments and reviews — and nothing is likely to leave a bad taste in their mouth than a lazy, copy-pasted response. Whether it’s on a positive comment or a negative one, customers want to feel valued. They want to feel that you took some time off your busy schedule to listen to them, and address their issues on a one-on-one basis — and NOT via a loudspeaker or a lazy boilerplate.
Some of the responses you get will be similar. But even with this, it’s still crucial that you respond to each one of them differently, in a customised and more unique manner that’s targeted in a way.
Look for the Silver Lining
With a negative review, it’s never with what’s written in the review, but how you react to it. Worse is when you decide to ignore it completely. While this may NOT seem like something NOT worth sweating over, a good number of customers will simply think you don’t actually care.
Come to think of it, the kind of customers who whine about your business or some of the services they’ve received tend to be the most vocal and determined. They’re determined to spread the word the furthest, if NOT to get your attention, then it’s to get more people to chime in and support them.
So it’s important that the first thing you do is find a way to cool them. Find a way to make their anger dissipate and get to a point that you can actually reason together and reach an amicable solution.
You’re like a fire-fighter looking to put out fire. The customer is boiling, and so are a hundred more with pent-up anger. They’re looking for someone to set the pace so they can join in and lash out as well.
Start by considering the fact that any dissatisfied customer has the right to vent out. And your only role in this is to find what’s eating them up and fix it.
Handled correctly, then you stand a chance of retaining the customer for more business in future. That’s the silver lining. Odd are good that there are other dissatisfied customer that might also have a change of heart after reading the thread and may be consider reacting differently.
This isn’t how things will be playing out all the time. There are customers who are so rigid and extremely hard to satisfy. There’s literally nothing you can do to get them to change their mind. But maintaining a respective tone and being careful with how you respond to them can go a long way into making you look better, and more often than NOT, making it pretty obvious that the problem lies with the reviewer and NOT you.
Take Your Critics Offline if Possible
If it gets to a point where responding to some of your critics claims means getting yourself dirty, then simple logic dictates that you refrain from doing so. You don’t want to air out some of your dirty laundry for the sake of wanting to prove something. If anything, it’s important that you keep your responses short and straight to the point. Where you’re required to get into the specifics of what you do, brush it over by inviting the customer to your office so you can talk it out and fix it in person.
You start by offering a sincere apology and then promise to reach back via phone or email. It could be something like:
“We’re glad to learn of your bad experience with our establishment. We’d like to discuss further about it and reach an amicable solution. Kindly reach us via email or phone. Here are our contact details.”
It’s important that you also remember to include your contact info. Failure of which your response may come off as unauthentic.
Apologise Where Necessary
Mistakes happen, and there’s NO harm in owning in it up by acknowledging you made a wrong turn somewhere. Works even better when responding to an online review someone wrote about your product or business. Just start a thread beneath it and apologise.
You don’t have to get into the detail of it. Instead acknowledge that the mistake happened and that you’re extremely remorseful about it. This will help you save, and even go ahead to show that you handled the situation accordingly.
You’re also allowed to act on the mistake and afterwards reach out to the reviewer informing them that you fixed the problem and that your services or products are NOW improved for the better.
Accepting a wrong is the first step to accepting responsibility and owning it up. It’s the first step to figuring out the best way forward and a working solution that would benefit both parties involved.
In A Nutshell…
Here is a nice infographic on what to do and what not to do when handling negative reviews. You might want to incorporate it in your corporate PR and communications policy, print out and stick it on your customer service desks as a constant reminder:
Are Negative Reviews That Bad? Here is How to Make The Best Of Negative Reviews
Most customers use the review section on their sites to determine the brand’s authenticity and whether the services or the products offered are worth considering. For this reason, negative reviews leave most businesses in a dilemma; do they ignore them, try to justify them, or publicly disagree with them?
Brands and businesses should embrace that reviews form a crucial part of their business feedback through their customers. While it is hard to meet all customers’ expectations, it is essential to address the negative reviews before driving customers away. Businesses should consider leveraging on some of these reviews to improve brands’ image, products, or services offered by the company.
This article articulates and provides some best practices on how to make the best of negative reviews.
- What you need to know about negative reviews
- Why negative reviews are essential for your business
- A customer leaves a negative review. What next?
- How to respond to negative reviews with examples
- Why you should not fear negative reviews
- Whether or not you respond to every single review?
What You Need To Know About Negative Reviews
Just as we do not live in a perfect world, it is the same way you should not expect all-time 5-star reviews for your business by your customers. Here are three things to keep in mind.
- Negative reviews do not mean your business is terrible.
- They can help you grow different aspects of your business.
- Companies can apply various techniques that can help in handling negative reviews (as shared in this article)
Responding to negative reviews can be very demotivating. It is effortless to get wrapped up and beat yourself up in the process.
While it is human nature to get all upset, it is crucial to take time before responding. Take a minute or two before your emotions take control, be in the best mental state and respond in a professional, positive manner.
It is essential to know that negative reviews do not mean your business, service, or product are terrible. Instead, they should guide you to see opportunities for your business to leverage for growth.
Why Negative Reviews Are Essential For Your Business
Empathy is a cornerstone upon which we form positive responses from negative reviews. To leverage on making negative reviews work in favor of the business. Companies ought to use techniques that evoke empathy.
Responding to reviews, whether positive, negative, or unfair, with personalized responses, e.g., photos, first/last names, or direct emails can instigate empathy in consumers.
Let’s explore various advantages of negative reviews.
- They show that your product, service, or brand is authentic. The fact that a person left a review, whether positive, neutral, or negative, indicates that they tried some of your products or services. Hence an indication that the reviews are genuine.
- Negative reviews give potential customers insight and advice that the business may not have provided regarding their products and services. Therefore, boosting brands’ credibility.
- How the business decides to respond to the negative reviews determines whether they will earn their customer’s trust. Addressing issues and the needs of the customer boosts their confidence in your business. Positive responses build trust, and the customers are likely to reconsider your services and products.
- SEO is vital for your business ranking. And reviews account for more than 15% of Google ranking factors. In general, they contribute to boosting your SEO hence better search ranking for your business.
- Negative reviews offer opportunity areas that your business needs to explore to grow. They offer insights on areas where you can improve and grow your business while addressing your customers’ needs. For example, suppose you realize that many customers are complaining about a delivery. In that case, this can be an opportunity area to address and adjust delivery modes and timings that favor most customers.
Watch this YouTube Video for more insights on how to respond to negative reviews.
A Customer Publishes A Negative Review. What Next?
Companies are prone to receive both negative and positive feedback both online and offline. For this reason, they should come up with strategic and effective ways to respond to reviews. It is appropriate to address the needs of the customers other than assuming them.
Here are some tips that can help you respond to negative reviews.
- Do not panic! Remember, negative reviews do not necessarily mean your business is doing horrible. Instead, it should give you an idea of what your customer needs.
- The world of business isn’t at all perfect. Figure out how your business can leverage negative reviews to grow while prioritizing customer satisfaction.
- Respond to the negative reviews in the most empathetic way. Putting your customer’s interests first while addressing their most urgent needs helps you gain their trust and build confidence in your brand. Also, this could serve as a customer retention tactic.
- Negative reviews can help you learn a lot about your business, enabling you to address different issues. Therefore, boosting your business growth at different levels and capacities.
- Once you have addressed the issue raised on negative feedback, do a follow-up to identify whether the customer was satisfied. As a result, you build rapport that strengthens your relationship with your customers.
- Finally, the companies aim is to get more feedback from their customers. The more the reviews, the more your business grows and improves on different levels and areas.
How To Respond To Negative Reviews With Examples
Some negative reviews stem from unrealistic consumer expectations, which can be out of a company’s control. It is unlikely to avoid damaging and unfair reviews for your business. However, this does not necessarily mean a downfall for your business or company.
Let’s explore scenarios where you would probably encounter negative reviews and the most appropriate ways to respond.
The customer was not satisfied with the product.
While your products or services may not appeal to all your customers, you can uphold customer satisfaction. In this scenario, a customer is not satisfied with your product or service. You can handle this by helping them get an alternative or refer where they could get the actual product.
A customer experiencing delivery issues
If a customer experienced delays in delivering a service or product they requested, try listening and explaining to them the details of what went wrong and the steps to resolving the issue.
Remember to apply empathy and apologize on behalf of the company. Also, ensure that a repeat of the same does not happen to bridge customer’s trust.
The customer had an issue with your business policy.
Posting a policy on your website does not guarantee that you won’t experience challenges with your customers once in a while.
For example, in a scenario where a customer requests to return a product after a set-closing window, it could prove the best timing to explain your business policy to them and avoid conflict in the future. If that is a question asked on the online platforms, seize that opportunity to communicate your policy terms and conditions and how they apply.
At least these things should be on top of your mind when responding to a negative review;
- Address legitimate concerns.
- Do not get personal.
- Keep things upbeat and professional.
- Keep your responses short and straight to the point.
Should You Respond to Every Single Review?
At this point, you are probably wondering, what then? Should I respond to every single review on my site? The answer is: it depends.
Here are some factors that you should take into considerations
Avoid Generic Responses
If, for instance, you will respond to every review with a generic “thank you” message, then there is no point in responding. Your responses should be unique and personalized.
When responding to a negative review, take your time to see the customer’s point of view and respond in the most positive way possible. Remember, your response talks more about your business and brand than the response itself.
Determine Which Review Sites Matter to you
Not all review sites are relevant to your business. Take time to understand what sites are more impactful for your business, which will help you determine valuable reviews. Also research and identify the most popular and those that suit your business and make it a priority to respond to them.
Take the Number of Reviews into Account
If you have 4-5 reviews on your site, do your best to respond to each of them. When deciding which to respond to, choose the detailed feedback as an opportunity to drive customer engagements as you highlight areas of growth in the business.
While negative reviews can leave you demotivated, there are several best practices that you can apply to handle negative online reviews.
- Even when the review is worst and leaves you hurt, thank the reviewer for reaching out.
- Remember, your goal is to diffuse the situation and not to win the argument. Therefore, do not argue even if you are in the right.
- Apply empathy and logic in this situation. If you need to take some time before you respond, kindly avoid letting your emotions take control.
- Work towards a solution offline. A situation is more likely to escalates online, causing permanent damage to your business and the brand.
- Don’t respond when you feel angry and overwhelmed. It won’t work out well in the end. The goal is to address the situation and avoid future occurrences.
- Do not be too much aggressive while defending yourself. If the reviewer does not include elements to help ease the case, always mention them in the reply. Maybe the reviewer had been offered a solution to the issue earlier but was not aware of it before ranting.
- Address only the genuine and legitimate concerns. Remember, it is not easy to impress and satisfy each of your customers’ needs. Consider handling issues that are within your control and that are most likely to affect your business.
Do not waste a lot of time on people you can never satisfy or make happy at the end of the day.
Are you having trouble getting reviews?
If you have many positive reviews on your business, one negative review can barely affect your business or your brand; however, it’s necessary to address it. On the other hand, if you have very few on your site, one negative can affect your overall brand image and site rating. That’s why it’s not only the number of reviews
that matter on your site matter but also the number of positive ones.
OutboundEngine is an online tool that helps you ask for reviews, advocate for your network, and gather as much feedback as possible. Would you mind keeping in mind reviews are not at all wrong? They will help you grow your business revenue and improve your brand’s image
It’s a Wrap
Online reviews influence the way customers perceive your products, services, and your business. Your brand reputation is shaped by what you say about your business and what customers say on the reviews. Dealing with negative reviews is NOT something you wing. A good strategy can save you a whole lot of stress and hassle.
While sometimes you may have little or no control over how your business is perceived online, you can consciously choose to participate in building a positive online reputation actively. And one way to do so is engaging your customers online by responding to their reviews.
This guide is meant to walk you through some of the things to do. But even with doing everything on the list, it’s important to keep in mind that some people are just hard to please. Nothing you do can make them put a positive word for your business or product out there for you.
Responding to positive, negative, and neutral reviews on your online platforms while applying empathy and highlighted best practices can help you positively impact, gain brand trust and boost your overall income for your business.
Here is another article we did on negative reviews to help you better understand how to respond to such feedback. Be sure to also contact us, MediaOne Marketing, for the best digital marketing services in Singapore. They range from social media marketing to search engine marketing, email marketing, search engine optimisation, and more. Our team has years of experience and will not rest until the set goals are achieved.