As a business owner it is hard to fathom that anyone would say anything negative about your business. Yet negative online reviews still occur, and in most cases they cannot be prevented.
These instances can make it difficult to control our natural impulse to feel hurt or angered, as we are all passionate about what we do and in the service we provide to customers.
However, the most crucial time is when you first respond to a negative online review. It is crucial because not only is it an opportunity to change the upset customer’s mind, but it also acts as a role to show your ability and willingness to provide a resolution–not only to the customer but to all who saw the negative review as well.
Because let’s face it, not everyone is going to like you or the way you conduct business–it is inevitable. But the way you react is the key ingredient to your continued recipe of success.
This means that you should not take to your first reaction. You must step back, take a deep breath, and continue on professionally. Do not delete the valid negative comment (unless it is spam or irrelevant), nor should you ignore it either.
You need to apply what we like to call the S.T.O.P method, which stands for “Stop Taking Opinions Personally”. People are entitled to have them!
You must respond. Your response can change the entire negative experience into a potential positive one and will be pleasing to the eyes of the 88% of people who are influenced by online reviews.
5 Reasons Why You Should Not Delete or Ignore Negative Online Reviews
- Someone else has already seen the review! Heck, a handful at the very least. This is the internet, after all. Deleting or ignoring will reflect even worse than the initial review since it will look like your business doesn’t care or doesn’t pay attention.
- Customers look for negative reviews more so than the positive experiences. Your customers are looking to see what negative reviews are out there. They are checking to see what they may expect from your dark side and how you handled it.
- Customers become skeptical if you have no negative reviews, as they too know that not everyone can or will leave happy.
- The way your business handles a negative online review can help persuade another potential customer to forgive you for another customer’s unhappiness.
- Being responsive in a genuine manner, with an intended resolution, provides a perception of caring about your customers.
This is important because 95% of customers will share their negative experiences, which is more than the 87% of those who share positive ones.
Expectations are the culprit of why people will leave negative reviews more than positive ones. Customers always expect to be treated with the best customer service, and they are not wrong to expect this; however, if anything goes awry, as in they did not receive a “yes” to a thousand other potential upsets that can and most likely will arise. This is why you need a strategy in place.
How to Strategize a Response to a Negative Online Review
You need to create a meeting with those that handle your online reviews–whether they are in-house or through a digital marketing company–and create a step-by-step process that can be applied to most negative instances. You need to assign one person to handle both positive and negative online reviews so there is no confusion and consistency is apparent.
This also means that this person needs to have a customer service oriented personality that can handle escalations and aid in de-escalation. They also need to have the ability to make decisions quickly or have easy access to someone who does. Waiting on a resolution can be the enemy.
Once you have an internal process in place you can now respond in an organized fashion.
When responding, be sure to be genuine in what you are saying without putting too much fault onto the business, as this can create further escalation. You need to also provide the name, phone number or email address where the customer can easily reach your assigned person.
It is important that they can either contact or be contacted by your assigned person so the negativity is taken offline as quickly as possible.
Once you resolve the issue, you can usually ask for the person to follow up again online with a positive review. If they do decide to do this, it is important that your business replies, even if it’s just a simple “thank” you”.
Why is it Important to Reply to Negative Online Reviews?
This is today’s form of customer service. It is quick and easy for someone to share their experience with your business. But just because it is online does not decrease the validity of their complaint. In fact, this way of “word of mouth” spreads faster and lasts longer than any traditional form of complaints.
It sure does sound scary, and in fact, is a driving force behind why businesses have come to deleting or ignoring negative online reviews. However, that doesn’t make it the correct way to react.
Online reviews in general need to have your attention just like someone who walked into your business and complained. You wouldn’t turn your back and ignore them would you?
What people have to say about your business does matter and has a massive influence on what others will think too. So you need to prioritize online sentiments as a part of your customer service routine, and ensure that those online reviews are getting the attention from your business that they deserve. If not, you could inadvertently be contributing to the detriment of your business’s reputation.
Watch Erin and Amanda Ryan Talk About Deleting Negative Reviews