We live in an increasingly interactive world. Social Media and Internet Search capabilities bring us closer to each other and give us unprecedented access to information, opinion, and insights into the world around us. This is especially true when it comes to reviews. Whether a customer likes or dislikes your business, that opinion can be spread to countless people in a matter of hours, or even minutes.

This can either be very good for business (if people are raving about you), or very, very bad (if people can’t stop trashing you online). Negative reviews can spiral out of control very quickly and can make you want to bury your head in the sand to get away from the horrible things that can be freely shared online.

Unfortunately, negative reviews don’t go away without taking action, and they cannot be prevented without an aggressive plan. The question is, what can be done to manage your online reputation and prevent negative reviews from negatively affecting your business?

Excellent Customer Services Preempts Bad Customer Experiences

As the old saying goes: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. In simpler terms, the best way to prevent negative reviews is to offer customer service that is above reproach. Although the customer may not always be right, you have to make them feel as though they are.

You must pamper every customer and treat them as the liability that they are. Yes, every customer is a liability that could potentially leave you a negative review. Your goal is to kill them with kindness and over-the-top service so that they will not even think about leaving anything but a glowing review (if they leave one at all). It only takes one bad review to overshadow a bunch of positive reviews.

Make the commitment now and implement a plan to ensure that every customer is given exceptional customer service. It is the foundation for successful online reputation management.

Respond Immediately and Take Action

Despite your best efforts, negative reviews are inevitable. There will always be misunderstandings, and there will always be customers who just want to see the negative in everything. So, you cannot expect prevention to be your only plan for handling negative reviews.

When a negative review comes in, take action. Make sure you are set up to receive notifications from Facebook, Google, and any other social platforms so that you can respond immediately. When you receive a negative review you should do 3 things:

  1. Reach out to the reviewer immediately and publicly through the review platform and offer to fix the problem. Many folks leave negative reviews because they don’t feel like anybody is listening. A quick response will assure them that you are. Also, the negative review will lose some of its impact on other customers if you show that you are willing to fix whatever issue the customer has. Don’t get defensive, as this could only add to your problems. Also follow up privately with the reviewer to work toward a solution.

  2. Take a look at the complaint to determine if it could have been prevented. If you recognize an area for improvement, make the change and then publicize (perhaps as a response to the complaint) what you have done to prevent it from happening again. Reviews are an often under-utilized resource for determining exactly how your customers view you (for good OR bad).

  3. After you have successfully addressed the customer’s issues and solved the problems to their satisfaction (note: this is not always possible), then don’t be afraid to ask them to remove the review.

Be Glad for the Exposure

Finally, as any good PR guru would tell you, there is no such thing as bad press. The same is true with online reviews, as long as they are handled correctly. At the end of the day, it is better to have a lot of people talking about you negatively, then for nobody to know you even exist. At least with negative attention, you have the ability to turn that to your favor by going above and beyond to fix the problem. Getting attention in the first place is the real challenge.

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