Negative Reviews of Your Business: How Do You Deal With Them?
Most business-owners face this at some point: there is negative feedback about your business out there online, from dissatisfied customers or disgruntled former employees, or malicious competitors. How do you handle this?
Build A Strong Social Media Presence: This is actually one of the most important reasons you need to have a strong online and social media presence. If a dissatisfied customer is blogging about you, or a terminated employee starts a malicious Facebook page, anyone can find them by searching for your brand. And if you don’t have a strong online presence, these links are likely to show up high on the search engine results page.
Maintain A Positive Business Culture: The best way to counter negative reviews is to have so much positive information about your business that the bad reviews are hard to find and only drops in the ocean. You need testimonials on your website, people engaging with your Facebook page, blog posts that feature happy customers or talk in detail about how you help them. Then even if someone finds a negative review, she puts it into context: it’s one reference point among many, not all the prospect knows of your brand.
Respond Quickly and Positively: But that’s just one of the things you should do. If the review is genuine and not malicious, you need to respond to it. Apologize and offer to make up for the customer’s bad experience. The sooner you do this the better: before the customer has seethed with resentment and doesn’t trust you to do the right thing. You need to respond to customer reviews not just to try to win over that customer, but to show anyone reading that you care, that this bad customer experience was an inadvertent aberration and not your normal way of doing business. Don’t let the conversations degenerate into a shouting match: try to take the exchange offline. Offer an email address or phone number (preferably, both) for the customer to contact you, and offer an incentive for them to do so (offer a coupon or to refund their expenses or something); or if there is a way to message them privately on the site, or you can get their email address, respond briefly but politely to the public message and mention that you will contact them privately (and then do so soon). If it’s an obvious troll, don’t bother responding. Few legitimate customers would take an ill-written, obviously malicious rant seriously, and you might be better off trusting to the wealth of other information about you (see above) to speak for itself. But don’t assume it’s a troll just because you don’t like what they say. If the complaints about you are legitimate, and not a malicious tactic or a rare mistake, address the cause. It’s impossible to make every customer happy; but if a dozen are saying the same thing about you, maybe you need to improve your product or service.
Five Things To Remember When Dealing With Negative Business Reviews:
- Start by building a strong online presence today. Even if you aren’t getting negative reviews now, you will someday. (Yes, you will.) And you don’t want that review to be the only thing prospects find when they Google you.
- Respond to customer reviews: apologize and offer to make amends.
- Try and take the conversation offline instead of hashing it out in public.
- Ignore trolls, but if you’re not sure it’s a troll, assume it’s not.
- Address the cause of complaints.
Unmana Datta is the Co-founder of Markitty, a tool that offers tips and insights to improve your online marketing. She writes about online marketing for small businesses on the Markitty blog. Follow her @Unmana on Twitter.