Sticks and Stones: How to Handle Negative Customer Reviews
Positive online feedback about your services or products can give a nice boost to your business, not to mention your spirits, but what about comments and reviews that are tepid or downright dismal?
You may not be able to change the reviewer’s opinion, though that would be a bonus, but you certainly don’t want potential customers who may read it to get the wrong idea.
That’s why a response is usually called for. When it’s done intelligently, you can temper the negativity, build trust among potential customers, and turn those lemons into lemonade!
Simple Steps to Managing Your Reputation
- Don’t respond emotionally or in haste. And when you do, keep it succinct.
- Look into any claims the reviewer has made, as he or she may have legitimate complaints.
- Publicly acknowledge the criticism and express concern regardless of whether it is legitimate. Sarcasm, hostility or defensiveness won’t go over well with anyone.
- If the criticism is not legitimate, provide the correct information in a helpful, nonjudgmental way and end on a positive note.
- If you determine there is truth to the review, own up to it, thank the reviewer for bringing it to your attention, and tell your audience what steps you’re planning to take to address the problems.
- If further discussion or action is needed, move it out of the public forum by suggesting that the reviewer contact you directly. (Once the issue is resolved, some reputation management professionals recommend encouraging the bad reviewer to update his/her review. Alternatively, consider writing your own note summarizing the resolution.)
- Don’t forget about positive reviews either. Your admirers appreciate being acknowledged, too. Don’t go overboard though.
Good or bad, online customer reviews are important for business development. Search engines factor them into results rankings (they’re viewed as a “sign of life”!), potential customers expect to find them when making purchasing decisions, and studies suggest that readers believe glowing reviews more when there are less positive ones mixed in.
If you’re not monitoring the online buzz about your business, you should start. Use free tools like Google Alerts and Socialmention to get notifications when your business is mentioned on social media, review sites, blogs and other online forums where current and prospective customers are active.
For More on the Matter: