One of the best and worst things about the digital age comes down to the fact that customers have more power over businesses (and especially smaller ones) than ever before. If buyers say good things about a company, that positive feedback will show up on search engines, social media sites, and review platforms like Yelp. Then, more customers will come flocking and the cycle will go on and on.
On the other hand, just a single bad review can dissuade new customers from even investigating a business, particularly if the feedback is recent or particularly sharp. That means you always need to be ready to protect your online reputation or lose sales opportunities before they even materialize.
Knowing how important customer feedback is, and how hard it can be to recover from an online complaint or criticism, let’s look at what you can do to keep a negative online review from killing your sales and marketing efforts…
Read the Review Like a Customer
It can be easy, when you’re reading feedback from someone who is critical of your business, to immediately get defensive. Try to resist that urge and look at things from the buyer’s perspective.
Specifically, you want to see if their complaint or poor review has any merit. What is it specifically they were upset about? Is there some chance other customers feel the same way but haven’t expressed their frustration or disappointment? If so, that’s a bigger problem than the review itself.
Look at Your Business First
After you have thought things through, consider making changes or improvements to the way you work. Talk to staff members, adjust your pricing and policies, or explain details to customers more thoroughly.
This is important because one bad online review can turn into dozens if you make the same mistakes again and again. It’s never fun to read something bad about your company, but it can be a good thing if it alerts you to a bigger problem.
Respond or Refute
After you deal with any issues in your company – or decide there isn’t a problem you have to worry about – it’s time to think about the review itself. You essentially have three options: to ignore the review, write a response, or refute it altogether.
Believe it or not, simply ignoring a bad review can be your best choice sometimes. You can’t please everyone, and other customers are going to know that, particularly if the review seems off-base or irrationally negative.
In many situations, the smart move is to simply respond to the review politely. Tell your side of the story, apologize to the customer, or promise to provide better service in the future. Any of these show that you care, and that you’re paying attention to customer satisfaction. For all of those reasons, you can even decide to respond to positive reviews in the same way.
And finally, if you think the reviewer was mistaken, or if the negative review is somehow fraudulent or aimed at you personally, you could always request that it be removed from your page on a specific platform. Negative reviews won’t be deleted by administrators very often unless you can somehow prove they are unhelpful to other customers. Still, it’s something you can try if you think there is a chance to have it taken down.
Monitor and Grow Your Online Reputation
There are several tools you can use to monitor your online reputation and encourage your best customers or clients to say good things about you online. They cost you very little, in terms of time or money, and can make a huge difference in your online reputation over time.
That’s important because the best way to deal with a negative review is to simply get lots of better ones that show up beside it. Anyone who uses the internet knows that even the best products and companies occasionally get complaints, and buyers will largely ignore the occasional piece of bad feedback if it’s next to lots of testimonials from happy customers.