These days, consumers turn to websites like Yelp and Angie’s List to research companies before doing business with them. That’s because consumers want to see what real customers have to say about a company to see if they can trust them enough to buy from them.
Needless to say, if your company’s pages on these consumer review websites are filled with negative reviews, you’re going to lose a lot of potential new customers.
But what can you do? You can’t stop an unhappy customer from posting a negative review of your company. Are there at least steps you can take to mitigate the damage of negative reviews? You bet there are, and this post is going to outline some simple strategies for handling negative online reviews from customers.
Actively monitor the web for new customer reviews. The first thing you have to do is be proactive in monitoring your reputation online. Too many companies don’t even realize that they’re being ripped to shred all over the internet. How can you stay on top of everything? There are many things you can do, from setting up a Google Alert to track mentions of your company to claiming your business page on Yelp.
Respond quickly to negative reviews. The longer you wait to respond to a negative review, the worse thing can get. The customer can get more upset, and the people who see the negative review without a company response will assume you just don’t care what your customers think. You need to be quick to respond, but you have to be careful that you don’t respond emotionally. Take a second to get a deep breath and cool down (you’ll probably be a little upset at what you’ve just read) before responding.
Don’t be defensive or argumentative. The negative review will probably contain some information that you don’t agree with or that makes you downright angry. However, this isn’t the time to get defensive or to start a fight with the upset customer. Doing so only makes your company look unprofessional, uncaring, and unwilling to make things right. Your goal isn’t to flame the customer; it’s to win them back and show other customers how great your company really is.
Apologize. It takes a big person to apologize. In fact, apologizing is often the hardest thing to do. But sometimes, you have to swallow your pride and apologize to the customer to make the situation better. Note: Apologizing isn’t the same as admitting guilt. You can simply say, “I sincerely apologize that you had a poor experience with our company…” and mean it, without necessarily admitting that you were in the wrong. A heartfelt, human-sounding (no corporate speak) apology can go a long way to resolving a nasty situation.
Find a solution. Most bad situations have a solution. Angry customers can often be buttered up and won back. The key is to focus on finding a solution. Maybe you can offer the customer a freebie. If you don’t know how to solve the situation, just ask the customer what you can do to make them happy. Believe me, they know what they want, and they’ll gladly tell you. If it’s something reasonable, give it to them.
Have you ever had to deal with any negative online reviews for your company? What did you do? Let us know by leaving a comment.