How Do I Manage Negative Online Reviews?

reputation-managmentA very important part of online success is making sure your online reputation is managed properly. No business can ever please every customer and angry customers can be very eager to make sure others know about their experience. An unhappy customer is much more likely to spread the pain than a satisfied customer is to spread the good news. The very first step of online review management is understanding this fact. Why? Because knowing that the customer in front of you can go online and say whatever he or she wants without any check or balance should enter into your decision making when trying to accommodate their gripe. It may just be worth it to spend the extra 5 minutes and go the extra mile to avoid a review that will remain online forever.

Unfortunately, many times the unhappy customer won’t make it clear just how unhappy they are or won’t give you the opportunity to correct the problem at all. There are people that just can’t wait to spread the doom and gloom and if you have enough customers, it is inevitable. A bad review will appear on google reviews or yelp or somewhere eventually. Don’t freak out, it happens to the best of us.

I have a bad review online… What do I do now?

The first thing to note is that you cannot have it removed without the owner’s permission unless it is extremely graphic. Reviews are not there to make you happy, they are there to give an honest look into how customers are evaluating business owners. If all reviews online were rosy, nobody would believe them and people wouldn’t rely on them at all. This would hurt the online review portion of the site and would render it useless. So, owners removing reviews they don’t like is very difficult. Don’t worry, there is some good news.

Here are my Bad Review Remedy Suggestions!

Contact the customer directly:
This is the best solution if it is at all possible. Try to make accommodations to mend the fence. Why? Because if you are able to come to terms that the customer finds acceptable, THEY ARE able to remove the bad review on their own. Many times this option is open especially if you know the problem is a simple misunderstanding. Obviously if the relationship is beyond repair, this option is not available, but it is the first and quickest solution.
Respond to the bad review immediately:
Once you become aware of the bad review and you have come to the conclusion that contacting the client is pointless, respond to the review online in your own words directly. Make sure your response comes across respectfully and professionally. Remember, potential customers are going to be reading your response. If you come across angry, they will avoid doing business with you, even if you are right in your argument. It is also important to make sure your response is short, to the point and easy to understand. Always end the response with, “please feel free to contact me directly at (leave phone number or email) so that I can further assist you.” This is wise to put on your response for both you and potential visitors to see that you are reasonable. Never admit guilt unless absolutely necessary. This isn’t a court of law, it is the court of public opinion. This response is meant to show that you care, you want to help and you have a brief explanation. Lastly, make sure that someone proofreads your response, especially if you are not a good writer. Explaining how you want to correct a mistake while writing a note with multiple spelling and grammatical errors will not look good.
Water down bad reviews with good reviews:
Be proactive! Make sure you have an online review strategy where you are proactively contacting customers on a regular basis and making it easy for them to submit online reviews for your business. (Please contact us if you are in need of this type of service) With a strong review management strategy in place, you will be able to use online reviews to your advantage, building a positive online reputation year after year. It is important to know that a bad review is not the end of the world. It can actually be a positive thing oddly enough. No, don’t start upsetting customers on purpose, but one or two bad reviews juxtaposed with a couple of dozen positive reviews makes the entire review portfolio authentic. Especially if you responded to the bad reviews quickly. Bad reviews are toxic when A) they are all you have on your online reviews and B) when they go completely ignored. Avoid these 2 mistakes and you will be in good shape.
Be aware of bad reviews when they get posted:
You can only respond to something you are aware of! Managing your reputation takes a little effort from time to time if you are going to do this on your own. Make sure you are aware of the different review sites that exist online and periodically check. You can google your business name and add “reviews” to the search and see what comes up. You can also hire a service that scrolls the web on your behalf and will notify you when a negative review gets posted about you. I highly recommend this as most business owners are too busy to do this properly and regularly on their own. (Please contact us if you are in need of this type of service) Costs vary for these services, so be careful, but the cost is definitely worth it for most businesses as a toxic review left unchecked can cost a business thousands of dollars in lost revenue. This is only going to become more and more important as time goes on, so get your review and reputation management strategy down ahead of time and use it to your advantage.