You Are Handling Negative Reviews ALL WRONG

Do you have a way for your clients, customers, or patients to share how they feel when they are emotionally compelled to do so?  

What is your plan to control negative content from leaking out online?

Have you considered if and when you get a negative review, how you will handle it?

Did you realize that most searches are now taking place on mobile devices and if you aren’t showing up looking stellar on mobile, as well as on a computer, you are losing clients?

Did you know that 60% say that negative reviews make them not want to use a business?*

What is the best way to handle negative reviews?

Our clients, customers, and patients (if we are health practitioners) are important to the health and well-being of our businesses and practices. At some point, you are going to encounter a situation where an unhappy patron feels compelled to complain about your organization online. This occurrence is somewhat unavoidable so it is better to be prepared for how to handle these negative reviews ahead of time then it is to sit back and hope they never happen to begin with or then do what people usually do - handle them  ALL WRONG!

Although people post negative reviews online for a lot of different reasons (not all of them simply because they are disgruntled), the good news is that you have the power to respond to their concerns and turn it around, if possible.  

The current political climate is affecting many people's outlook on life and many have a negative mindset even before they walk through your door.  People are on edge; the smaller things tend to seem much bigger than ever before and we have seen an upswing in negative content everywhere including a surge of negative reviews online. Instead of staying up late at night, sweating over the possibility of getting a terrible online review, or worse yet, freaking out then responding badly once you get one, here are some suggestions from us on how to approach online criticism and protect your online reputation.

Don’t Panic!

Do not freeze in fear and neglect to respond to a negative review. Remember that the person finding fault with your business has nothing to lose by complaining about your business online but your reputation is at stake. Businesses have been known to respond without thinking and in a defensive manner which comes across online as arrogant and disrespectful. You don’t want that lasting impression of your work to sit there for people to share and take screenshots of – further damaging your reputation.

Also, if you spend any time digging into the history of the pe posting the review, you will often find that they are critical of many of the businesses they patronize. Starting an online war with a loony toon is never a good idea so it’s essential to take the source into consideration. This may surprise you but, in a good many cases, we don’t recommend you respond at all. It will merely escalate the problem.  If you have someone mentally unstable posting negative content, it looks worse for you to respond.  Just consider the source.

If you feel it is a legitimate complaint, it’s important to respond quickly but appropriately, showing that you care about the person’s feelings and demonstrating, publically, your desire to try to make things right.

Don’t Ignore Your Kudos

Before you start dealing with those negative reviews, take some time to engage and interact with all the positive online reviews and testimonials you have received. Thank your raving fans since they are the ones who love you and engaging with them provides more benefits than expending all your energy interacting with people determined to dislike you. Don’t ignore your kudos!

Don’t Overcomplicate Things

If you must respond, and sometimes your online reputation requires you to do so, keep your response simple. A brief, one to two sentences, is all that is necessary. Stick to the facts. Often, we suggest that you acknowledge the grievance in a sympathetic tone and give them the opportunity to speak with you offline in an attempt to make things right. That is all that is needed. No matter how heated you feel, do not go into the matter online where everyone can see the exchange.

Don’t Just Be Reactive

While you can try to get the negative review removed, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to do so. It’s true that the system is often abused but it wouldn’t work at all if business owners had the capability of simply deleting any of the reviews they didn’t like. What is a better approach? Stop obsessing over the negative and focus on raising up the amount of excellent online reviews. That same time and energy you are using to cover up the bad could be channeled into building up and even better online reputation! Put a system in place to ask for reviews and be consistent about it. One negative review will hardly hold its weight about a mountain of raving ones.  This is where we come in.  We help hundreds of businesses have a systematic way to collecting all of the content they can, push out the amazing content to all of the places that matter while preventing negative content from being seen.  Then, if someone does post directly online something you don’t want seen, we have a system to help you bury it.

Important Fact: According to the research done by Reevoo – “68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores, while 30% suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see anything negative at all.” Which means, a site padded with 5 Star reviews doesn’t come off as genuine or authentic and will make your audience suspicious. Let’s face it; no one is perfect all the time.

Mobile First

The people who use Mobile Internet to read reviews jumped to 61% (38% in 2015)*

What that means for you is that you need to be sure your reviews are not just being requested in a way that doesn’t allow for those to post their content on an online review site like Google, Yelp, Yellowpages, etc.  It’s great to ask for feedback.  What is not great is not getting it to the places that your audience will actually see how much your existing clients or patients love you. 

If you are in business, someone will eventually post a negative review – it’s a fact of doing business. Developing an online reputation strategy that will impact your prospects in such a way that they will want to pick up the phone and contact you first is the way to go. Consumers like to shop around online for the best solution to their problem but they have limited time and attention to do so, make your business stand out online using these suggestions.

We are here to help!  Have a question?  Book a FREE 30 Minute FREE Market Analysis and see where we can help you take charge of your online reputation today.

*Bright Local 2016 Consumer Review Survey Statistic.

Tamela Cantor