5 Tips to Handling Bad Reviews

Advertising is good for increasing awareness and encouraging conversation about the brand. However, it’s far from the only thing influencing public opinion—there’s also customer feedback. Whether it’s through word-of-mouth or social media, a user review carries a great deal of weight. If you ignore this, you’ll be dragged down by trolls, competitors, and angry ex-employees.

What can you do? The first thing is to be aware that reviews exist. Check out social media sites like Twitter and review sites like Yelp to see what people are saying about your business. You can also set up a Google Alert or use a free tracking tool like Social Mention.

1.  Respond quickly
Speed is crucial when dealing with criticism. If you can respond in five minutes and follow up in fifteen it’ll show that your business has nothing to hide. Plus, it’s never too early to regain ground after a scathing review. However, your message must be thoughtful and accurate since the audience may be in a fighting mood. Get the facts straight but never answer negativity with more negativity. Sometimes the best approach is something as simple as, “I’m sorry for the inconvenience. Please contact me directly at [email address] and we’ll figure this out.”

2.  Acknowledge the complaint
Never get defensive with negative reviews. You’ll drive away customers if you start arguing with them, especially on a public forum. Be polite instead of combative. Show them that you’re a human being. It helps if your people have the personal touch as well, so encourage them to be active on social media. For reviews that are abusive or obviously fake, your best option is to have them removed. Most review sites allow you to report things that violate their terms of service.

3.  Apologize and offer compensation
If the complaint is legitimate, step up and take the blame. Don’t qualify your apology and don’t try to pass off the responsibility. Admit that a mistake was made and ask what you can do to fix it. People hate it when businesses try to evade their obligations. On the other hand, they’re more likely to forgive and forget if you apologize sincerely and try to make amends. It shows that you care about your customers, and this always works for you.

4.  Flip a negative to a positive
Handling a bad review doesn’t have to stop at damage control. If you do it right, your business could end up looking better than ever. Think of it as an opportunity to work on its image. Be as honest as possible when responding to feedback. Don’t hide comments or make excuses. And do what you can to make it up to the customer, even if you have to go out of your way. Your biggest detractors can become your best advocates with a little kindness and understanding, so it’s always worthwhile to open a dialogue and take steps to solve the issue.

5.  Be consistent
The personal touch is important, but so is being fair and consistent. You’re representing an institution after all. You don’t need to worry about negative reviews if you’ve got a well-planned policy for them and being predictably decent is a great way to earn trust. Always be professional. Never be sarcastic or passive-aggressive. Respond only to specific complaints about your product or service. Don’t react to personal attacks, vague criticism, or anonymous crudity. Give praise where it’s due. Basically, never do anything that makes your business look petty or undignified.

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