How to Handle Negative Online Reviews

Save your Business from Negative Online Reviews

We’ve all had negative experiences when shopping in a store or dining out a restaurant. The old adage was, ‘If someone has a good experience they may tell someone but if they have a bad experience they will tell 10 people!’  Today with the advent of Social Media that 10 could just as easily turn into 10,000.  It means businesses really need to be on their toes because accountability is being served up, whether it’s welcome or not.

Read Between The Lines

People have so much going on in their lives, you never know what happened the day they left a bad review. The negative experience could have simply been the straw that broke the camels back and for some reason their emotions drove them to write a scathing review online.

Be careful discounting every negative review to simple someone having a ‘bad day’. Whether or not their actions are justified, the way YOU respond WILL makes a great difference to your business. Rating and review services like: Google Reviews, Zagat, Urbanspoon, Tripadvisor, etc. will often give you an option to send a message the user who left the message. It’s important to reach out to a disgruntled customer as soon as possible. Offer them a half priced meal, a free entrée or a substantial discount to give you another chance and to have them either change the review or update it with a newer positive review. Social media is perfect for quickly building your reputation as someone who cares. This is especially true for restaurants who always need to be fast and solution-based when it comes to a negative customer experience.

Mistakes Happen

The fact is that mistakes happen. If your a parent, partner or business owner you are well aware of the mistakes you make in those roles and so are your customers. People will forgive you…but they won’t if you ignore them or try to justify inappropriate actions.

It’s very easy to only see the negative in this whole transparent feedback place we find ourselves. Your gut may be saying, ‘Oh couldn’t they just keep it to themselves?’ But is that what you really want?  Anytime you get feedback it’s really very positive. Feedback that allows you to improve is the best way to leave your competitors behind.

How come? Because those people were already going to say something about their experience, with or without social media they were going to let people know. But without Social Media you might never have known that. By posting their negative experience online they ahve really given you a gift – the opportunity to make amends so the whole world can see!

Ask yourself these two questions:

1. When was the last time I checked out what people are saying about my business online?

2. How much longer will I delay improving and sustaining the good reputation I’ve worked so hard to build?

3. How can I leverage whatever this person said into a positive, learning experience for me, for my staff and for this customer?

Two ways that you can ensure that negative reviews never reach the web 

Go Above and Beyond – Treat every single customer you have as though they are your only customer.  Handle all communications with respect and make sure that you are doing everything in your power to keep them happy.  This benefits your company in more ways than one.

Ask Happy Customers for Feedback – If you have a customer that is beside themselves with glee over your service, you need to take advantage of that.  Ask them to write a brief testimonial and then place it in on a special testimonial page on your site.  Better still have tools like a smart phone or ipad at your place of business and ask the customer if they wouldn’t mind posting their review online right then and there!

About Mark Kanty

Mark is the founder and Director of Release Dynamics. Established in 1990 this small business consultancy provides Practical Marketing Strategies to Release the Full Potential of small and medium sized businesses. The Web Site Marketing division of Release Dynamics specializes in taking clients to the top of the search engines for the unique high traffic keywords their customers are searching for.