When someone searches for your name online or the name of your business, you obviously want only positive things and glowing reviews to show up. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
There are tremendous opportunities for customers to share their experiences with businesses, and this can include their grievances.
Of course, reviews can be beneficial for your business as well. People tend to trust other customer reviews, and it’s a free, powerful part of your marketing.
What do you do to manage negative online reviews, though? How you handle these can be just as important as anything else you do in marketing.
1. Monitor Your Business Name
There are a lot of places customers can leave reviews for your business, and you can set up Google Alerts to receive a notification whenever it’s mentioned online.
You want to regularly monitor the internet and see what people are saying about your business, not only to watch for negative reviews but also just so you know what you’re doing well and what you can improve on.
You always want to be proactive.
There are media monitoring tools you can use so that you’ll know that you’re seeing reviews and conversations about your business, even if they aren’t directly posted on your social media or website.
For example, people might go to Twitter to complain about a business but not tag the company. A media monitoring tool will also grab those conversations and notify you so that you can reply in a timely way.
Trying to search manually for all the brand mentions for your business is time-consuming.
2. Don’t Delete It
If you get a negative review on something that you have control over, like your Facebook page or your website, resist the urge to delete it.
There are a lot of reasons deleting negative reviews is a bad idea.
First, you need to be aware of what’s being said about you, and you need to take steps to fix the issue and the relationship with the customer. If you remove negative feedback, the message you’re sending to your customer is that you don’t care about their feedback.
If people notice you’ve deleted a review, even if it wasn’t from them, they’re going to see you as less trustworthy and transparent.
There are already 30% of consumers who assume online reviews are fake if they don’t see any negative ones. If you have 100% positive reviews, it’s simply not going to seem authentic. It’s impossible to please everyone, and most customers realize that, so they expect at least a few bad reviews to be in the mix.
Negative feedback can actually give you an opportunity. When you keep the review up and respond appropriately, you can show that you’re committed to the customer experience.
You can use the feedback as the chance to turn someone who’s not happy with you into a loyal customer, and you might be able to transform the entire situation into something with a long-term positive impact on your business.
3. Calm Down Before You Respond
Now that you know that you need to keep the negative reviews up before you do anything else take a deep breath. Don’t respond out of emotion or anger. Give yourself a few minutes to decide how you’re going to respond. You need to be cool-headed and professional.
This is also the time when you’ll decide if the review actually needs a response.
Most of the time, negative reviews need a response.
There are times when they’re ridiculous, vicious, or come off more as trolling, in which case you can probably ignore them.
If someone writes a review that really is entirely false, you may be able to get it taken down. This would be a rare time you should take it down if it’s on a platform you control.
Otherwise, if what the person posted is legitimate, and is true or mostly true, then you’ll prepare a response.
4. Gather the Facts
You need to be thoughtful when you respond to negative reviews, and in order to do that, you need the facts.
Go over the situation if you were around and if you weren’t, get input from the people who were. Try to get an overall feel for the situation.
5. Reply Publicly and Privately
It’s a good rule of thumb to reply to reviews publicly and privately.
You want to respond publicly because you want people to know you’ve taken the review seriously, you’re responsive, and you’re committed to your customers. In your public message, address the legitimate concerns of the person and briefly outline the constructive steps you’re going to take to fix it or prevent it from happening again.
Don’t ever get into an argument in a public setting.
Then, once you respond publicly, send a private message to follow up and make sure the customer sees your response. Let them know they’re free to get in touch with you directly if there’s anything else you can do to right the situation.
You might also ask that if the person feels you’ve resolved the situation, they update their review to show that. You shouldn’t ask them to change it—just to edit it to reflect the steps you took.
Don’t ever ask someone to take their review down.
6. Work On Building More Positive Reviews
Again, it’s normal to have an occasional bad review, but you always want to focus on getting as many positive ones as you can.
Don’t be afraid to ask your customers to leave reviews when they’re happy with your business. Around 70% of customers will leave a review when you ask, according to research.
That way, you’ll have plenty of good reviews that will outweigh the bad ones but still give people a good general overview of what it’s like to work with your business.
7. Actually Take the Review into Consideration
Finally, when someone leaves you a bad review, don’t just do lip service and say you’ll deal with it. Actually, incorporate your bad reviews into making positive changes in your business. They can be valuable tools if you use them the right way.