How to Deal with Negative Reviews and Salvage Your Online Reputation
We live in a world where word of mouth has been transformed into online reviews. Not surprisingly, online reviews are now the most trusted resource for 94% of people when it comes to determining whether or not a business is good.
Having an excellent online reputation is more important than ever. According to a BrightLocal study, two-thirds of customers form their opinion about a business after reading no more than four reviews. That being said, if potential clients love what they see, they are more likely to contact you.
But negative reviews are also part of the process. There will be at least one client who won’t be satisfied with your service. Most business owners fear negative reviews; however, if properly handled, they can actually have a positive impact on your business.
Too Good to Be True
A study conducted by PowerReviews and Northwestern University has shown that people trust the businesses with an average rating for a product or service between 4.2 and 4.5 stars the most. The majority of potential clients seek negative reviews when considering whether to start doing business with a certain company because they provide authenticity. Having a spotless rating and perfect reviews makes them suspicious.
Why Negative Reviews Aren’t so Negative
As we said, negative reviews aren’t necessarily a bad thing for your business. Set your goals high but don’t be desperate when a negative review occurs. Here are three significant benefits of negative reviews that you might not know.
Negative reviews establish trust and authenticity.
You shouldn’t hide the negative reviews. They help establish authenticity and trust with your clients. When clients see a negative review, it reassures them that your brand is transparent and has nothing to hide. The majority of clients are aware that people can’t all be equally satisfied with the same product or service.
They inspire innovation and improvement.
This stands for both positive and negative reviews. They provide a valuable set of insights that can help you innovate and improve the overall client experience. Keep track of what clients are saying about your service and consider the problems they share. Negative reviews are often the most crucial aspect of your strategy because they inform you about which areas need improvement.
Negative reviews help you reconnect with your clients.
Another valuable aspect of negative reviews is the fact that they give you a chance to redeem yourself. If things have gone south at some point, you want to take action and fix things. But how can you do so if the client doesn’t leave a review? If clients decide to disappear quietly, the chances they will come back are nonexistent. However, if they speak up and share their problem, you’ll be able to resolve things and convince them to give you a second chance.
How to Handle Negative Reviews
As we already said, you can consider negative reviews necessary for your success. However, how you will deal with them is important; while potential clients don’t believe a spotless review record, they want to know that any problems have been fixed and won’t be repeated.
1. Respond Promptly
First of all, when you see a negative review, don’t panic. It happens to everyone at some point. What’s really important is taking action quickly. Clients will then know that you really care and that you value their opinion. Also, this might encourage them to even give you a second chance.
2. Evaluate the Situation
In the world of fake reviews, it’s important to know who are you dealing with. First of all, see whether the reviewer is really one of your previous clients. It that’s the case, try and learn more about them. Track the time when they’ve contacted you, started working with you, and most importantly, whether there is a legitimate reason for the bad review. The more information you have, the better your response will be. If you’re dealing with a scammer, just state that your records don’t show them as previous clients of your company.
As a business owner, you can get frustrated from negative reviews, but you need to understand that the customer is always right. So instead of getting yourself into an argument, take a deep breath and apologize. Also, assure them you’re going to address the problem. This shows potential clients they can rely on you and your business.
4. Offer to Resolve the Issue
Besides promising you’re going to address the issue in the future, it’s a smart move to ask your client whether they’re willing to give you a chance to resolve the problem. Give them your contact info (a phone number or an email) and offer them an open and honest collaboration. Again, your potential clients will see this as an act of goodwill, which will enhance their trust in your business.
5. Really Take Action
Don’t just promise to your clients you will fix the problem—do it! If there’s an issue that repeatedly appears in several reviews, dig deeper and see how it can be fixed. Use the insight and act upon it. Keeping your clients satisfied is a complex process, but it sure is rewarding.
6. Ask for a Second Chance
If you have worked alongside the client on repairing the problem, have taken action, and eventually resolved the issue, ask them to update the review in order to highlight that the situation has been fixed and the customer is happy with the final result.
7. Have the Defamatory Reviews Removed
While negative reviews can turn out to be beneficial for your business, fake ones can damage your reputation. If you come across a review that’s defamatory and harsh, you should contact the review site and request to have it removed.
8. Encourage Positive Reviews
To neutralize the effect of the negative reviews, encourage customers to leave positive reviews. This, of course, doesn’t mean you should tell them what to write, but you can use different tricks to ensure they leave to put in a good word for you. For example, you can run a NPS survey to learn how satisfied your clients are with the service/product. If they are satisfied you can redirect them to the review sites where you need positive reviews. If they aren’t satisfied, you can reach out to them and resolve the issues. Take a look at this example of a NPS survey:
9. Be Authentic
When responding to negative reviews, you need to be real. Never share a pre-prepared response; instead, reach out to the client on a personal level. Use the name of the reviewer, introduce yourself and your role in the business, and address the specific issue.
10. Monitor Your Online Presence
Continuous monitoring of your online presence is a must. Knowing what clients say about your business and whether someone has left a bad review or rated you with five stars will help you define your next steps.
Wrapping It Up
The bottom line is, an occasional negative review shouldn’t cause you to panic. However, as difficult as it might seem, you need to have a strategy for acting on them. When handled appropriately, negative reviews can have a positive impact and help you build authenticity and trust with your clients. Finally, once you’ve dealt with them, use the negative reviews as a learning experience. Address the legitimate issues and keep your business thriving.