We’ve talked before about how to use Yelp to grow your local business, and many other ways to maintain an online presence. Putting a business online and asking for customer feedback means that your business is also opening itself up for some negative reviews. How you handle those reviews can seriously hurt your online reputation. Before beginning an online presence, check out these ways to handle bad reviews.
- Almost always, you should respond to negative feedback. When a business is online, it is making an implicit promise to listen to its fans. Why else would it engage on social media? Always thank your fans for their comments. Sometimes, that may be the only response necessary. You can also say, “we’ll look into it,” or “we’re sorry you had a bad experience, and we’ll do better next time.” Vague replies won’t always satisfy a customer, but they can placate one.
- Ask for more positive reviews. On any online reviewing website, the positives will outweigh the negatives. Although negative and positive reviews are interspersed, the positives generally are seen first. Even so, potential customers do go looking for the negative reviews. If there are enough positive reviews, negative experiences appear to be unusual occurrences rather than the norm at your establishment. For many viewers, that will still convince them to visit your business.
- Sometimes, it will be necessary to ignore a bad review. Not all of your customers will have reasonable expectations, and they will go away disappointed. Not all of your customers are appropriate online either. Reviews containing inappropriate or aggressive comments can be deleted without the action reflecting back on you – in fact, they should be deleted. Absolutely do not engage with an unreasonable customer; you will always come out looking bad in that situation. On sites such as Yelp, you can report abuse and ask the site to take down a bad comment, or ask the reviewer to delete their own comment.
- Change the location of the reviews. Customers mainly only look at third party review websites if they appear at the top of the Google search. When one business owner was frustrated by those websites, he created his own blog that showed the positive reviews his business received, and then used SEO methods to drive the blog to the top of the Google search results. Similarly, you can place glowing reviews on your company’s official website.
- Give the bad reviewers a refund. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it has been shown to work. Customers already feel more positively towards a business interaction when they are getting a great deal out of it. Use that to your advantage. This will also encourage disappointed customers to return to your establishment, giving you another chance at providing a positive experience.
“6 Ways to Handle Negative Online Reviews.” https://www.openforum.com/articles/6-ways-to-handle-negative-online-reviews/. (30 July 2013).
Moore, Rody. “How Small Businesses Can Manage Negative Online Reviews.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rody-moore/negative-online-reviews_b_1519147.html. (30 July 2013).