With more and more websites from Amazon to Facebook to Google+ offering ways to review businesses online, many people are using these reviews as a way to determine which products and services are best for them to buy. Increasingly, customers do not believe advertisements – but they DO believe the experiences of others’ who have interfaced with your business.
As a small business owner with an online presence, it’s natural that you’d like all of your reviews to be glowingly positive. I have bad news for you: Not everyone is going to like you. In fact, some people are even going to use the online marketplace to try to “get back at you” for perceived wrongs that did not occur. It’s always not fair, but it is often true. So how do you deal with it when one of these negative reviews pops-up?
4 Steps to Handling Negative Online Reviews
1. DO NOT DELETE THE REVIEW
The caps may seem a little out of line but trust me, I cannot stress this point more. Unless the reviewer is outright cussing you out and defaming your business to the point that you’re taking legal action, you should probably leave the review up. Why? Because people who are angry enough to leave negative feedback on your online properties often come back to check to see if you’ve responded. If you’ve deleted their feedback, some people will share an even MORE negative, more angry review that they will spread even further. Plus, deleting the post rather than facing criticism head-on in a professional manner can make it seem like you’ve got something to hide. Not to mention the fact that screen caps last forever and can often be thrown in your face even post-deletion. Don’t delete negative feedback. It really only makes things worse.
2. Approach Things Head-On
Responding directly to a review, whether positive or negative, shows customers and potential customers alike that you are hands-on, up front and dedicated to customer service. Doing so even when the review is negative allows people to understand that whatever the issue, you’re willing to work with them on it. Respond directly to your critics and it will put you in a positive light for many others as well.
3. Be Professional
The advice in point number two fails miserably if you cannot be professional in your response. If your go to response is “That’s not true” or “That’s your problem, not mine“, customers are going to think negatively of you. Remember: they don’t know what happened. They don’t know who to believe. Turning things into a he said, she said argument is only going to make everyone involved look questionable. Keep your response polite and professional and it will go a long way towards keeping your stellar business reputation
4. Take things offline
Ultimately, after your polite response, you want to take things to a venue that’s less visible. No one wants to see a business and a customer hashing minute details out online. Offer to talk to the customer in person or ask for a number where you can reach them to discuss the issue. Taking things offline allows you to resolve an issue swiftly and with hands-on care.
The above tactics only work when you’re actively monitoring your online presence to be notified of reviews of course. Remember – even if you don’t like the online marketplace does not mean people are not taking about you there. It’s important to know what’s being said about your business and resolve any issues customers are bringing there.