Online reviews are the prototypical double edged sword. Businesses all over the world are experiencing an entirely new way to reach an audience base through the various review sites where their customers share their experiences with countless readers. When the review is glowing and illustrates the company’s superlative performance in customer service, product quality, efficiency, cost-effectiveness and the rest of the characteristics which make for a memorable customer experience all is well. However, there is always a group of customers who react vehemently to real or imagined slights and they will not just pan your business online, they will savage it. With the ever-growing reliance by your customers on online reviews, it is important for every business owner and manager to have a firm and practicable policy in place to react to these adversarial antagonistic antipathetic arguments… without resorting to dispatching Cousin Vito and his violin case.
It is necessary to minimize the damage
In a recent post on Business Works entitled Top Tips For Handling Negative Online Reviews, Dave Scheine, the Director of European Operations for review giant Yelp, discussed the top tips for minimizing the damage from negative reviews and the necessity to act decisively and quickly as soon as they appear.
- Count to 10, take deep breaths, then reply. It’s usually a good idea to wait until you cool down when confronted with a negative review, but this chill time should be limited to a few minutes as you need to respond cohesively, comprehensively, and most of all quickly. The longer you leave that negative review out there in the cyberworld without any form of a counter-response, the greater the damage to your brand. Rely on your various social media listening systems to alert you to when you’re being slammed in the reviews and mobilize your forces to craft and post an effective, honest, and thorough reply.
- R-E-S-P-E-C-T, that’s what social media means to me. Whatever you do, don’t resort to the actions undertaken by Full House Appliances in Washington State. Faced with a negative online review, they issued an email threatening a felony libel lawsuit. That’s the prototypical putting out the fire with gasoline approach and a precursory Googling will bring to light countless examples of companies taking similarly offensive tacks and suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous internet recoil. When confronting your naysayers it is important to always show deference, courtesy, and respect. Always stay positive, apologize if you are at all in the wrong, and attempt to defuse the criticism with honest facts portrayed in a sober, professional manner. Of course if the reviewer veers off into personal or company physical threats, then the best response is to do nothing but immediately refer the situation to your local police department.
- When social reviews give you lemons, make lemonade. If you’re one of those company owners or managers insulated from the reality of the business by a crew of Yes Men, it can be refreshing to learn what your customers really think of their experience, so negative reviews can serve as a wake-up call to fix what’s broken.
- Take it outside. No, that doesn’t mean to challenge your critic to fisticuffs in the alley behind your store, it means that you should follow up your public response with a private outreach. If you can locate the disparager’s email address you should contact them at once and offer to resolve the situation through that channel. Although it may at first seem like a small price to pay to offer extensive compensation for the denouncer to retract their statement, beware that the word will quickly spread on the internet grapevine and then you’re opening yourself up to a flood of fake bad reviews just so you’ll “settle” in a very lucrative manner with the whiners.
The day is long gone when a disgruntled customer was limited to badmouthing your business to a small circle of family and friends. A negative review can impact the purchasing decisions of thousands of customers so craft a masterly and compelling strategy to counter the grousers and maintain your brand’s positive image in the minds of your consumers.