Negative Reviews

photo credit: Rob Boudon

Small business owners can benefit from knowing these best practices about how to handle a negative review. Even if you do everything right, a customer may still feel compelled to write a negative review about your business on an online website, blog or on social media channels. These can have a devastating effect on your small business if not handled properly. Here are some things to keep in mind if a negative review happens to you.­

  1. Track review sites. Know which review sites you might be on and monitor them for comments about your business. One way to monitor online mentions is to set up Google Alerts.
  2. Decide whether or not to respond. How do you know whether a comment even needs a response? Although you should, sometimes it’s just not realistic to be able to respond to all the comments your business gets. Just do the best you can, and give priority to issues that are time sensitive or may hurt your reputation.
  3. Be sure the response comes straight from the top. Getting a complaint or negative review handled by someone important (i.e., the owner or CEO) is better; it carries more weight.
  4. Give excellent customer service. Negative reviews allow your business to showcase your customer service, honesty, and integrity. Say thank you, and tell them you appreciate the matter being brought to your attention. Give your contact information and offer to resolve the issue offline. Likewise, thank people for GOOD comments.
  5. Don’t fight back. This should go without saying, but never argue or try to change a customer’s mind. The customer is already upset, the best you can do is hear him or her out and do what you can to contain or resolve the situation in as professional a manner as possible.
  6. Solicit positive reviews and comments from your customers. Clients, business partners, or people in your network can be a great source for praise and accolades. Don’t be afraid to ask for them to post a review when they give you a verbal compliment.
  7. Finally, there are times when it is appropriate to remove a comment. If you believe it is spam, or serious harassment, it is acceptable to delete a negative review or comment from your blog (or request the review site to remove it). Be careful and selective about this though, as doing it can end up back-firing.

Your customers are the life blood of your business. There are many factors involved in why someone feels compelled to write a negative review or something hurtful. If you find your business on the wrong side of an argument, it’s important to treat the disgruntled person with the same respect and priority you would give your best customer. And, you never know, if you follow these best practices, you might even turn them into one of your biggest advocates one day.

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