In an increasingly digital, on-demand world, that’s so closely and quickly connected, it’s easy to find out about a business before you do business with them. It also provides an environment where customers can cast your business in a negative light on a very public forum. Let’s face it, you won’t please everyone that does business with you and that can easily lead to a bad review. Before you know it, others jump on the bandwagon because someone else has taken the first step.
What’s counterintuitive is not all bad online reviews are bad for business. For those who already know your company and appreciate what you offer, those reviews won’t matter. What’s more, consumers who read reviews usually do give deference, putting things into context. Future customers are likely to weigh the good with the bad and make an intelligent, unbiased decision. However, this isn’t to say that not responding is the best course of action.
Ways to Respond to Bad Online Reviews
When your company receives a bad review online, it’s only natural to do one of two things: label the person who wrote it as a blithering idiot or just ignore it. Of course, the former is a one-way ticket to the insanity of trying to win an argument that can’t be won or even resolved. The latter tells people that you just don’t care enough about your company’s reputation. While the second option will certainly do less damage, it isn’t necessarily the best way to go.
Most customers won’t write you off based on one negative comment. Many, however, will gain respect for your business if you respond to the comment in a pleasant and helpful way. Of course, that’s not easy to do when you pour your life into a business and someone bashes it online. Your immediate impulse is to return fire. Don’t do it. Back slowly away from the keyboard and collect your thoughts. —Forbes
What you ought to do is approach your business in a proactive manner, which you’re likely doing naturally. In other words, providing the best you can at a reasonable price, meeting or even surpassing customer expectations. However, it’s nearly inevitable that you won’t please everybody and out of those, there will be at least one that takes to the internet to voice his or her negative opinion. Of course, your business will be cast as incompetent, uncaring, or just bad all around. What you do next will determine how a bad review affects your business. So, try these tips to turn a negative into a positive:
- Don’t respond right away. It’s almost cliche to give this advice, but it bears repeating. The more in-the-moment you are, the more difficult it will be to respond objectively.
- Leave your emotions and personal bias aside. Yes, your company is your very life and you’ve pleased so many others, this seems quite unreasonable, but it might be legitimate.
- Try to learn from what’s being said. Don’t just take the comments at face-value, dig into what’s between the lines. You might just discover that there’s something awry you’ve never noticed.
- Be brief but clear. Your response should not be a novel and it shouldn’t go off into tangents. Make a brief, clear statement so others who read it can form a sense of the situation.
- Offer a reasonable solution. It might be the last thing you want to do, but offering a discount, or something else to make peace can work wonders.
What you should never do is try to win an argument. You’ll look petty and it will appear to future customers that you don’t work and play well with others because you’re always in-the-right. Keep a level head and approach it with empathy, you’ll probably be surprised by the results.