How to deal with a Negative Online Review
Social media is a great medium to create awareness and loyalty for your business. However, it also allows unhappy customers and competing businesses to voice negative reviews. Part of managing your online presence includes dealing with bad reviews. So how should you deal with a Negative Online Review?
Understand why people write reviews
Before we delve into how to deal with bad reviews, it is worth understanding why people write reviews. According to the stats, the majority of people post negative reviews to receive a response. Often people just want an apology or want to give you another chance. So when you receive a negative review, assume that someone is offering you the opportunity to make them become a regular.
The other reasons include: Being paid to do so; To gain an Incentive; They were truly impressed by your product/service; They simply want others to benefit from their advice.
The ‘Not So Good’ Ways to Deal with Negative Reviews
With 69% of all consumers searching the internet for online reviews. How you deal with a negative online review can have a major impact on whether a customer chooses your business or your competitors’.
Here are some of the worst ways to deal with a negative online review:
- Ignoring Them: If someone complained directly about your product, would you stick your finger in your ears and say ‘LA LA LA LA LA LA’? Not responding to a review online is the equivalent of doing this. Unfortunately, this happens quite a lot. Only 38% of people actually receive a response to an online complaint. This is a shame because these businesses are losing the opportunity to make the situation right, retain a customer, and turn a negative reflection on the business into a positive one.
- Deleting Them – “It Never Happened”: This is a sure-fire way to anger the customer further. They have been refused the opportunity to voice their opinion and you have ignored them at the same time. This will prompt them to post another even worse review on a platform that prevents you from deleting their review. They will also tell their friends to avoid your restaurant, this could end up costing you several potential customers.
- Lashing Out – “F*** You”: Snarky, Aggressive or Rude responses simply look bad on you and your business, and it also gives more credibility to the negative review. This is an example of an aggressive response to a negative review. There may be more to the story than what is available in the review and some truth in the owners’ response, but what sticks out is the business owner called a 74-year-old woman an asshole! Instead of reflecting badly on the customer, this makes the business owner look like an aggressive jerk. Nobody likes to receive negative feedback about their business. It may feel unfair and you will probably disagree with the customer’s opinion. However, it is important to be compassionate with the reviewer. Even if you can’t convert the dissatisfied customer, a well-written response to a negative review will show the potential customers that you care about them.
- An apology with no further action – “Insincere Apology”: Responses like “We will try to do better!” do not appear sincere. It does not resolve or provide a solution for the customer. It does not encourage the customer to give you another chance.
How to deal with a Negative Online Review
The best way to deal with a negative online review is to apologise and provide a solution. You need to make sure you convey the message that you understand the customers’ frustration, you value their patronage and you will make it right. This will ensure that your disgruntled customer will tell their friends how fantastic you are! It will also encourage brand loyalty. Word of mouth and repeat business is still the best way to keep your business growing.
- Be Professional and Polite: This is pretty straight forward. Don’t use words that insult or dismiss the writer’s concerns. Remember you are trying to make things better.
- Use their Words: Using their own words does two things. It ensures that you address their exact concern and it conveys that you understand the issue raised by the review writer.
- Don’t give Excuses: Although there may have been a reason why the diner had a bad experience, giving excuses or worse blaming the customer suggests that you don’t understand their issue. There is no reason for them to give you another go.
- Highlight your Strengths: Instead of giving excuses, you could highlight your strengths. For example, you could say that “I am truly sorry for … being in the industry for 5 years we understand the importance of great customer service and pride ourselves on making each customer experience a great one …. We hope that you will give us the opportunity ……”.
- Move the Conversation Offline: It is completely acceptable to request that the user provide proof of purchase. This way you can filter out the real and fake reviews (Woolworths fake review). Make sure that you post publicly your apology and the offer to contact them offline to make it right.
- Resolve the issue: Sometimes you can get away with saying give us another chance. However, sometimes you need to resolve by taking the hit and refunding part or all of the cost. In some industries, this is extremely important. In 2010, I moved into a new place and noted that my mobile coverage from home was less than ideal. I contacted my mobile provider because I had just started a new plan and thought that it was an issue with my phone. They informed me that they were working on their network coverage and expected that my issue would improve in a couple of months. Before I had the chance to respond, they offered me 2 months free. I went from ‘what is the point of having a phone if I can’t use it at home’ to ‘It is only a couple of months, standing on one leg with my head out the window to take a phone call when at home isn’t that bad’. Had they not given me 2 months free (around $80), I would have moved to another provider on a different plan and they would have lost me as a customer. With multiple people in the same situation, they would have developed a reputation for having bad network coverage which would have resulted in people avoiding the provider.
- Catch it Before it goes Online: Most people who have a bad experience will not tell you. So how to catch them before they post their review online? Ask them. People who are extremely unhappy will usually let you know directly. Most people will respond more honestly when approached via email, it can feel less confrontational and it will give them more time to think about the experience. Often if the customer is given the opportunity to vent their frustrations directly to you, they won’t do it online. If you have your own online ordering system like ours, you will be able to collect their contact details. At the end of the day, week, or month you can produce a report of all the first-time online customers and shoot them an email with a survey offer.
- Encourage your Happy Clients to Review your Business: The best way to deal with negative reviews is to drown it out with positive ones. Encourage your loyal customers to review your business online and those negative reviews will lose their credibility.
If you do get a negative review, don’t sweat it! Remember that we all make mistakes, we are human after all! Just make sure you try to learn from it and move forward.