If there’s one thing that remains true for any online business, it is the fact that they all need good reviews to thrive. Creating a trusted image for your brand is absolutely vital to ensuring its survival, and online reviews play a huge role in this.
Sadly, even though most business owners dread it, negative reviews are almost inevitable. At one point or another, you’ll have to deal with them and how you handle these situations will go a long way in deciding how bad its effect will be.
In fact, negative reviews on their own do does not have to be a bad thing. It only becomes so when you fail to deal with them in the appropriate manner.
Of course, deciding on which manner of response is most appropriate is an art in itself. This is why we have provided below 7 key steps to deal with negative reviews and improve your business’s online image.
Dealing with Negative Reviews
1. Deal with It
In case you think this sounds a little too redundant, just hear us out. You see, one thing you absolutely don’t want to do when your business gets a barrage of negative reviews online is totally ignore them.
Ignoring your negative reviews just because they make you feel bad or they’re too painful to look at is like ignoring an open wound. If you do this, the wound will fester and before you know it can take down the entire business.
Instead, you want to make sure that you’re always in a mindset where you resolve to deal with it rather than run away from it. You may not even know just how yet, but the fact that you are resolved to do something about it is already a step in the right direction.
2. Locate Them
This might be a tough one to swallow, but one of the key steps you need to take to deal with negative reviews online is to actually locate them. Now you may be wondering, “why do I even want to do that? Not only do you want me to ignore them, but you also actually want me to go looking for them on my own?”
Yes, absolutely. Not knowing where your negative reviews are is just as bad as ignoring them, because they will end up having the same effect.
For instance, a single negative review on a tweet may end up costing you in the long run. But since it’s twitter, you don’t bother replying and when more people see the tweet, they already assume the negative review was right.
3. Acknowledging the Negative Reviews
Believe it or not, the mere fact that you have found the negative review and acknowledged that you have indeed seen this, goes a long way in reassuring not just the person who left the review but those who have also come across it.
In the end, building a solid brand image for your online business is all about reassuring your customers and potential customers that you care. That you’re not just some faceless blob who is there to do business and forget about the people.
So after seeing a review, your first message should be that you have seen the complaints and it’s been noted.
4. Remain Level Headed
Of course, at this point is where you then have to take action regarding the actual content of the review itself. But this is where it gets tricky, and you must realize what not to do as much as what to do. And the first thing you don’t want to do is feel angry or defensive.
Everyone who sees the review will always put themselves in the customer’s shoes because they are potential customers themselves. So if you get in a back-and-forth argument on a negative review, you will absolutely never win.
5. Explain the Situation
The point of being level-headed while dealing with negative criticism is so as not to engage in a bitter back and forth with the reviewer, but it is also to help you explain the situation in a polite, neutral manner – which is the only way to do it.
Remember, you’re on a public platform/forum where everyone sees these messages. You’re not just talking to the reviewer when you respond to a bad review, you’re talking to everyone who will also see the message.
Seeing you respond in a helpful, polite way goes a long way in endearing you to them and showing them that you are indeed worthy of their patronage.
5. Learn From Legitimate Criticism
It is easy to convince yourself as business owners that every negative criticism is an attack against you. This doesn’t always have to be the case. In fact, if you slow down sometimes and put yourself in the customer’s shoes you might just understand why they’re feeling aggrieved.
What’s more, you might learn a thing or two about how to get better, meanwhile if they had chosen to not leave a review, you could still end up making the same mistakes over and over again.
So a negative review doesn’t have to be a negative in the end. It could end up being an overall net positive for your business.
6. Ensure it Never Happens Again
Learning from your negative reviews is great, but to really ensure that the opportunity is wasted, you have to stay committed to ensuring that it never happens again. Of course, this might be easier said than done, but for the sake of your business, you have to do it.
Some would even go as far as saying that the absolute best way to handle a negative review is to ensure that the particular complaint never happens again.
7. Highlight Illegitimate Criticism
This is a tricky one and to do this, you must tread lightly. Even though there are legitimate criticisms in negative reviews, sometimes customers are just wrong (yes, they’re not always right).
In situations like this, calmness and patience are absolutely vital. You have to call out the wrong things while being neutral and calm. Like we mentioned earlier, it is an art form, but with time and patience you too can thrive at it.