Feb 05, 2014

How does your company handle negative online reviews?

What is the most effective way to respond to negative online reviews of your business? Do you ignore it, or attempt to respond and address the issue?

5 Tips For Responding To Negative Customer Reviews Online

"As Yelp says, “negative reviews can feel like a punch in the gut”. Even better, according to a recent study by Cone Communications, four out of five consumers have changed their minds about a recommended purchase based solely on negative information they found online.

But there’s a lot of lemonade to be made from those review lemons. After all, negative reviews can increase sales. Negative reviews can help potential customers feel like they have “done their homework” which moves them further towards making a purchase decision. Negative reviews can also add credibility to your positive reviews. And perhaps most important, negative reviews give businesses a chance to respond and show how awesome they really are.

So when your business gets slammed on a local review site, be it a legit complaint or a crackpot customer, you can’t afford to ignore the negativity. So let’s look at how to turn these major bummers into teachable moments."

Speaking from a small business perspective, the correct first step is often to take a deep breath and walk away from it for a little while. Then evaluate whether you should respond. Let’s face it, no matter how hard you try you cannot please all of the people all of the time, and sometimes people are going to complain no matter what. If it is a customer/situation that you recognize, try to reach out privately to the customer and resolve the problem. I’m in a service oriented business with a limited number of customers, so while this is viable for me, I understand that it might not be if you are in a retail business.


If the attempt to resolve the issue directly doesn’t work, and you feel that the negative review is serious enough to warrant it, you can respond if the review site allows it. Make it short, factual, and professional, say that you are sorry that the customer was displeased and invite them back for a second chance. Whatever you do don’t attack them or engage in a back and forth. 


There are always going to be bad reviews, don’t lose sleep over the rare negative example. If you start to see a large number of poor reviews and feedback though, that’s a clear sign that there is room from improvement in your business practices. It might be a good time to make the proverbial lemonade from the lemons.


Just FYI, there is a CIO article that has some suggestions on how to avoid mistakes when dealing with negative feedback and reviews.

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