It's a fact of life, if you're in business to sell products or services, at some point you're going to come across a customer who doesn't like you. Getting negative feedback can be a bitter pill to swallow, but its inevitability means that you should make sure you know how to deal with it when it does occur. Here are some valuable tips on how to respond to negative online reviews...
The impact of the internet for reviews
We live in an age where the internet allows us to voice our opinions about all sorts of things. People use the internet to gauge other user experiences of a product or service before they make the decision to buy it themselves. This means that reviews have a massive impact on swaying people's opinions. Negative online reviews can spread like wildfire across the internet, so knowing how to handle them to limit any damage caused is a vital strategy to have in place.
How to deal effectively with negative reviews
In order to respond to negative criticism, you need to know what is being said about you. It's worthwhile keeping a check on review sites, social networking sites and receiving alerts when your company name is mentioned online. Keeping a check on opinions about your company means that you can respond instantly when something negative crops up.
It's essential to be on the ball with negative online reviews, because the longer you leave the comment to fester, the more annoyed people might get and the greater the chance word will spread. Never, ever decide to ignore the complaint or delete it in the hope that it will go away - unfortunately, it probably won't. There are companies, such as Insignia Communications
, that specialise in the training and management of these types of situations. It’s always worth looking into these services if you feel your company will benefit.
The worst thing you can do in the face of bad criticism is to get on the defensive. It will only add fuel to the fire. Instead, even if you know that you have not done anything wrong, always maintain a polite and professional approach. Apologise and show that you genuinely care what people think of you or your products/services, and offer a solution for dealing with it. Even if you don't have an immediate solution at that time, at least write that you will be looking into it and will keep your critic informed. Using this approach causes less damage and can help restore any confidence lost.
Open up a dialogue
When negative press erupts, people will expect you to say something, so try to open up a dialogue with your audience. Get them involved in the debate, and ask them how you think you could do better to solve the particular problem. Give the impression that you value feedback. When Toyota found themselves embroiled in negative online reviews in 2010, this is what they did and it helped to bolster trust within the organisation again.
Learn from the experience
Gaining negative feedback isn't something to be desired, but it can be a positive experience if handled correctly. If you show your audience that you are genuinely sorry and explain how you will make changes for the future so it won't happen again, then you may come out of the experience unscathed.