How To Handle Negative Online Feedback

Posted on August 22, 2012

Review based websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Angie's List have given potential customers an immeasurably effective resource to utilize prior to making an actual purchase. They get to read hands on, undistilled reviews from existing customers; all the good and all the bad.

For some companies, this is terrifying. What happens when someone doesn't like what I sell? What do I do if my package doesn't arrive on time? What happens when my one angry customers blasts it out to the internet and I lose thousands of customers?

The great thing about these review sites is that they are effective tools for both buyers and sellers. As a company, it opens up the opportunity to respond to customer concerns, and if you are doing things right, your customers actually turn into your sales team, telling others about the value of your products, customer service, and business.

But let's be honest. No one makes every customer happy, so what do you do when you get a negative review?

Respond and Respond Quickly:

Nearly every review based site allows you as the company to respond to reviews made by your clients. Use this tool in your bag to demonstrate that your customers' concerns are important to you.

When you are indeed in error and the negative review is justified, you may need to fall on the sword. Take the blame for the misstep and do your best to try to win them back as customers. And do so quickly. There is nothing worse than seeing a company have multiple negative reviews with no responses from several years ago. It gives off the impression that you are not taking customer concerns to heart.

Respond Professionally:

Many reviews can be downright angry, and even that is an understatement. Imagine owning a bar for a moment. One of your bouncers throws out an obviously intoxicated individual who the next day writes a fantastic tale about how mistreated they were and how your service staff were the worst in the city. Is any of it true? Probably not, but it still requires a response.

Rather than getting in the mud with them, maintain your image. In this example, detail the policies your bar has in regards to removing an intoxicated individual and the legal restrictions that you must adhere to for the benefit of all of your patrons.

Getting in a virtual shouting match with someone is a recipe for disaster, showing your potential customers you don't know how to respond to negative feedback. Your future customers will be able to identify legitimate reviews from those looking to simply sully your name.

Conduct An Online Audit:

With a wellspring of review sites out there, and more launching all the time, simply finding out what your customers are saying can be a daunting task. Conduct a search of your business on some of these leading sites and find out how you are performing. Sign up and stay involved. Encourage positive reviews with your customers and respond to negative ones.

Negative reviews are not necessarily a black mark on your business. In fact, you can do everything right and still get a poor review. It is all about how you use the information. And while we mostly are discussing online reputation, these reviews can be used to help improve your business from a foundational level. For example, if you see repeated reviews claiming that your product is arriving damaged, you may need to reevaluate your manufacturing process or trying alternative shipping options.

A recent survey found that 80% of customers have decided against purchasing a product based on reading negative reviews online. Don't let your past customers negatively impact your future sales.

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