So, you’ve set up your website and social media platforms to make it easy for your clients to leave rave reviews. The Internet is singing your praises. Customer engagement is growing. Your brand image is flourishing. That is, until someone has a bad day, and takes it out on your Google My Business Listing.
Phrases like “worst ever,” “I can’t believe they call themselves a—,” and “stay away” pierce your ego—and your e-reputation. Your 4.9/5-star rating takes a devastating hit. While seething reviews are often quite creative, when they’re talking about your company, they can be horrifying to read. But some negative reviews are more balanced, presenting valid feedback and points where you could improve your products and services. We’re going to take a look at tactful responses to all types of reviews, from the raging to the glowing. (Before you get to how to handle varsity level negative reviews, be sure to check out Part One of this blog post: A Five-Star Reputation)
The Doozie: How to Handle Varsity-Level Negative Reviews
Unfortunately, it is rarely your delighted customers who speak the loudest. Well-dug Internet rabbit holes can reveal that the same person who would never send their worst enemy to Sally’s Nail Bar also had to throw out their milkshake at Pete’s Diner. This is to say, don’t take infuriated feedback too personally. A few other tips:
- Keep calm and steer the conversation offline: Wait for the hot feeling to subside before you start typing. Angry, indignant responses will only intensify the train wreck. Nobody looks good in an Internet war so take a deep breath and call upon your inner grace and professionalism. Tact and brevity are your best friends here—in as few words as possible, apologize for their negative experience and offer to resolve the situation offline.
- Do not ignore the perpetrator: Silence rarely an option. Prospects are on the lookout for negative reviews—almost more than positive ones—and they want to see that you take feedback and customer service seriously. Even if the fire’s unfounded, you still need to put it out. But there’s one special case—
- Flag defamatory reviews: If someone is entirely out of line and verging on abusive, there is little you can say to make it better. Both Google My Business and Google Maps have the option to flag a review that infringes upon Google’s review guidelines. Facebook also has an option to report a review that violates community standards. Beyond obnoxious ranting and false accusations, you’ll want to look out for fake accounts and spam and do what you can to take it down.
There’s Truth in Every Criticism: How to Respond to Legitimate Negative Feedback
- Keep calm and steer the conversation offline: Again, you don’t want to be part of an Internet showdown. Do not get defensive or justify what happened. Fake apologies—I’m sorry you feel that way, but we did the best we could—are the worst. Kindly acknowledge the person’s experience. Say you are sorry. State your values as a company and ask them to contact you directly so that you can make it right.
- Do not commit to anything in the public sphere—You don’t want to set an unsustainable precedent for future incidents. Any negotiation and compensation need to take place one-on-one with the client.
- Do not say that the customer was right in the public sphere—This could have legal repercussions. Once you do resolve the situation, you may gently request that the customer either remove the negative review or respond to your comment to say that together you’ve reached a solution.
Accentuate the Positive
- Acknowledge and thank your happy customers—This will help to humanize your brand and build customer loyalty. It’s great for SEO. And it’s free!
- Keep it personal and specific—Make it obvious that you remember and value the interaction. Compliment the customer if you can. “Your hair looked great” (if they got a haircut). “It sounds like the chest of drawers was a perfect fit for little Prudence.” “I’m so glad Uncle Cuthbert loved his cake.”
- Share the love—Publish your customers’ generous feedback in your newsletters or make a special post on social media. More free advertising people will trust.
E-Reputation by Linkeo
“I hate the idea of people rating my services.” “What if all the reviews are negative?” “I’m nervous about people being able to say anything they want.” At Linkeo, we hear this kind of thing all the time. The truth is, unhappy customers will find a way to publish their discontent, no matter what. So, it’s wise to set up a place where everyone can weigh in.
With our Reviews solution, customers can leave their stars and applause right on your website. And as part of our e-reputation offer, our community managers will keep tabs on what people are saying across all platforms. They’ll flag and moderate online reviews so that your online reputation doesn’t take a hit. It takes courage to put yourself out there—courage that most ruthless critics don’t have. So, don’t let a few wayward naysayers scare you out of making your mark on the Internet—Get in touch today and let’s get started.