Reviews are an essential part of doing business, you can’t escape them, and if you do your job the right way you can even turn them into a powerful tool that will help your company thrive in the competitive marketplace. Yes, reviews can be your biggest asset, and they can be your ultimate undoing.
That said, there is no escaping negative feedback either. No matter how much you try to uphold your online reputation, maintain a positive relationship with your audience, and offer stellar service to your customers, a negative review is bound to happen at one point or another. With that in mind, here are the five effective ways to handle negative reviews and turn a bad situation into a viable growth opportunity.
Monitor your online reputation closely
The first mistake business owners make, especially those managing small brands and are generally unfamiliar with the concept of online management, is letting digital bullying go unnoticed. This is the easiest way let your online reputation crumble behind your back while you’re out there trying your best to establish long-term success in a competitive market.
So naturally, your first order of business is to identify negative reviews. You can do this by tending to meticulous online reputation monitoring and inspecting all of your digital accounts on a daily basis. Leave no comment unread, and strive to pick up on any negative buzz surrounding your brand before it escalates and spreads across the online world. Once you have identified the problem, assess whether it requires action on your part.
Determine if a response is required
There is a known paradox in the modern business world, one that manages to confuse even the most experienced of business leaders: a successful business maintains constant, transparent communication with its audience, but sometimes a lack of communication is needed. In other words, there are times when it pays off to remain silent. These are specific situations that you need to identify, and then decide if the review warrants a response.
Sometimes, people are simply “trolling” you and are trying to elicit a humorous reaction from the community. Sometimes, people are being bullies for no apparent reason, and other times people will express concrete concerns. It will be up to you to recognize each scenario and craft your response in a way that benefits your business. This, of course, requires a sound battle plan.
Establish a sound battle plan
No matter the scenario, no matter the severity of the issue, you need to be ready to respond in a way that helps you save face in front of your customers, and retain a positive brand reputation in the online world. Given the fact that there are numerous ways every scenario can unfold, it’s important to have a comprehensive crisis management plan on hand that involves PR, communications, and marketing strategies. In a nutshell, you need to prepare for every contingency.
Having a plan in place will also allow you keep control of the situation and not let it take a turn for the worst. What’s more, by assessing the situation thoroughly, you can decide on how to respond. For example, if a customer is simply joking around, you might want to follow up with a witty retort of your own. On the other hand, an outright negative comment with no merit may not even deserve a response. And finally, customers expressing concrete concerns deserve a professional answer that will resolve their problems, sans the humor.
Choose a response method
When communicating with your customers and responding to negative reviews, there are two ways to approach the problem: publicly and privately. There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods, and you will need to decide on the best way to handle the issue based on the customer and your history, the level of buzz surrounding the issue, and the nature of the problem itself.
- Choosing to respond to a negative review publicly will put the spotlight on your brand and its level of customer service. You should use this approach not to win an argument, but rather to acknowledge your customer’s concerns and give it your best to rectify the situation.
- Responding to negative feedback by getting in touch with the customer via email, chat, or phone, is the best way to take the eyes of the public off the matter and connect with the customer on a more personal level. However, you need to be prepared for every scenario, as there is no telling how the customer might respond. Once you have reached a mutually-beneficial agreement, be sure to publish a post informing the public that the matter has been resolved.
Be quick, pleasant, and professional
No matter the scenario, you should always stick to the three pillars of successful crisis management: promptness, courtesy, and professionalism. Let these three pillars guide your strategy and help you craft a response that will turn a negative situation upside down and help you preserve a positive reputation. Complement your response with concrete benefits for the customer such as gifts and store credit, and you will have averted a full-on crisis.
In the modern business world, reviews from your customers can make or break your brand. Every successful company needs to know how to handle a crisis to minimize damage and maximize potential, so let these five tips guide your decision-making process towards stellar customer reviews in the future.