January 7, 2016

Negative Reviews: How to respond to harsh words

In 2015, there are hundreds of reviewing platforms, and at least 5 that you should definitely have a presence on as a business owner. When many business owners hear this however, they are often hesitant to leave their business open to flack, as they’re scared of what people might say or that customers will see negative feedback and be dissuaded from using their services.

There are, however, benefits to showing your vulnerable and human side when it comes to your online reputation, even if that means receiving some negative feedback.

The online conversation goes both ways

When you connect with your consumers online, it is like any other real-world relationship. You both need to listen to each other’s needs or what you have to offer, and if issues arise they need to be addressed or you will lose the friendship – or fanship – of your consumer.

Gone are the days where print and TV advertising spoke to audiences without a mutual dialogue. The digital world is a two-way street; not only does your audience listen to your voice, but you also need to listen to theirs, either literally (in comments or reviews) or by listening to their needs from afar and creating a company that fulfills these requirements in a broader sense.

When you join Facebook or list your business on sites like TrueLocal, you are ‘handing them the mic’ to not only sing your praises, but also provide feedback to your business if they feel mistreated in any way. So it never goes down well when reviews, comments or statuses are not acknowledged or taken on board. This has the power to destroy the faith and loyalty of your customers, which is why it’s important you know how to deal with issues if they arise.

How to reply to negative reviews

It’s never nice receiving a negative review and your first impulse will be to try and delete or hide it from your profile. However, this is the worst thing you can possibly do, as not only will it make you look like you are trying to brush bad things under the rug, but it’s also denying your business the chance to improve and please more customers.

When replying to a negative review, the most important factor is not to shift blame. If you do shift blame, this will make you come across like someone who cannot admit that they are wrong, and as a business owner you should know you can’t get it right every time.

Here are a few more dos and don’ts for replying to negative customer reviews

DO: Describe what you would normally expect to happen under your service and provide a sincere apology. Only share benefits in a delicate way that does not seem like you are trying to mask the issue at hand.

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DO: Correct misinformation in a factual and friendly way. This will allow other individuals reading reviews about your business to understand why that review may be incorrect. If you fear the review is not genuine at all, DO bring that up but only if you are sure they did not visit your business – not as a way to discredit a genuine review.

DON’T: Hide or delete negative reviews from your page. People will notice and it simply makes your business look like it’s trying to hide something.

DO: Personalize your reply as much as possible, and try to genuinely address the issue. Follow up any negative feedback about a staff member or service, as this is the only way you will be able to improve the experience of your future customers.

And lastly, DO: Acknowledge and reward your true fans

If you notice that you have one great review don’t be afraid of letting them know you appreciate them or, if they go above and beyond, reward them for their kindness. This will often show that your company appreciates their customers and will increase the likelihood they will recommend you to their friends. You may even want to offer them a special deal for themselves and a friend so that you might meet a new customer in the process!

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All of these small steps can make a difference to how your audience sees you online. Don’t be afraid of addressing negative reviews and always try to use any feedback to improve your customer service or products rather than ignore and hide issues from future customers. People admire authenticity and negative reviews can also make your business seem more realistic, after all nobody is perfect. This is why Google also doesn’t allow 5 star reviews – only 4.9.

If you need professional assistance when it comes to your online reputation and persona, please read more here.