How to Successfully Handle Negative Reviews

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A positive online reputation is essential to the success of your business. Today, with so many customers researching businesses online before making a buying decision, a negative online review can damage your reputation. Often, these negative online reviews can end up on the first page of search results when people search for your business.

That is why it is critical to attracting positive online reviews on third-party sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp. From a consumer standpoint, negative reviews can harm your business and can bring down your rating, making it harder to find when customers search for it. While no business wants to get negative online reviews, they do happen. Here are some of the practical ways to deal with them:

  1. Act quickly: Prompt reaction to a negative review will show the customer that you care and value his or her opinion. A quick and professional reply may pacify the angry customer, and you may get a second chance.
  2. Respond offline: Instead of responding publicly, it may be appropriate to reply privately via email or phone. For instance, Yelp permits business page owners to reply privately via email. When you resolve the issue to the customer’s satisfaction, you can post a brief comment for the general public to see.
  3. Be firm: A bad review, particularly one that expresses a strong opinion, may demand a strict response from your side. Take time to think about the issue and respond professionally. If, after talking to the reviewer, you find his comments are genuine, take proactive steps to resolve the issue.
  4. Request the reviewer to remove the negative comment: Most customer review sites will not allow you to remove reviews. However, in the case of a defamatory or libelous comment, request the site to take it down. You may be required to claim your business listing before making this request.
  5. Monitor your digital presence: To respond to online reviews on social media platforms, you must know what your customers are saying about your business. Online reputation monitoring tools such as Social Mention and Review Trackers can help you monitor your social media presence.
  6. Do not ignore negative reviews: In most cases, customers who leave a negative comment are not trying to defame you. They only want their opinions to be heard. Take such reviews on their merits, as they may reveal an area of your business that could benefit from improvement.
  7. Encourage customers to post positive online reviews: To mitigate the impact of a negative review, you must encourage your customers to leave positive online reviews. However, do not attempt to force your customers to leave only positive reviews. You can consider signs, table toppers and window stickers in your store mentioning the names of review sites where you want customers to post reviews. You can also attach a note to invoices or receipts requesting customers to leave an online review.
  8. Learn from the negative reviews: Negative reviews can benefit your business. If every review is positive with four- and five-star ratings, potential customers may become suspicious, feeling that the reviews are false. Some studies have proven that negative online reviews can contribute to increasing trust, rather than damaging it.
  9. Share reviews with your employees: Make sure every employee in your organization is aware of reviews, both positive and negative. Not only will this help prevent similar issues in the future, it will also build a customer-centric mindset among employees.

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