From the moment your business establishes an online presence, there is a good chance you will face negative reviews. Even companies that have great products and unparalleled customer service often have to deal with dozens of negative reviews every year. Handling these reviews in an unhealthy manner could turn those interactions into PR nightmares. Here are a few tips to help you handle bad reviews and some steps you can take to prevent them entirely.
Take a Step Back
It is especially common for small business owners to see a neutral or negative review and take it personally. Over the years, many of us have seen examples of scathing reviews turning into heated battles between customers and business owners. Before you even consider responding to the comment, first take a step back, collect your thoughts, and take control of your emotions, as noted in Mashable. Trying to field a complaint when you are feeling personally offended is only going to make the situation worse. You must remember that every response you make could spread across social media sites and be seen by thousands of people.
Respond Quickly and Be Empathetic
Many reviews are completely unfounded, but you should still try to answer them as soon as you are able to collect your thoughts. One great way to respond is to offer an apology and ask the client if they would like to take the conversation offline or into a private chat. By doing that, you will show the unhappy client you are concerned and ready to take action. The apologetic response will also reveal to other customers that you are attentive and caring. In many situations, that simple gesture will be enough to bring the client’s emotions down so they can think clearly. In case the fault lies with you, having an RMA (return merchandise authorization) process in place will speed up the process of replacing damaged items and doing right by your customers when something goes wrong.
Know When to Report the User
There may come a point when you can no longer reason with the individual or appease them. When that is the case, you should take some time to figure out how to report them or remove foul language. This is especially important if the customer has become belligerent or begun to make personal threats. Throughout this process, save all the interactions in case they are needed for legal purposes. Depending on which service or site they have put the review on, you might be able to have the individual completely banned if personal threats were made against your company or employees.
Work with a Reputation Management Company
After a business begins to grow, managers might not have enough hours in the day to defend themselves against every attack. A reputation management firm will help you guard yourself against anyone slandering your company or spreading false information. They do this by ensuring that the positive and truthful reviews are much more visible on your website and social media accounts. Many of these firms, such as Reputation X, also offer more comprehensive services and know different methods to defend your business so you can completely take control of your social media accounts and the accounts you control on the review sites. This often allows them to avoid these situations before they escalate too far.
While negative reviews can feel like personal attacks, it is vital that you separate yourself from the situation and think logically. How you deal with each of those evaluations could change the minds of countless future customers. Before you decide to make any comments or post a single response, you should take a moment and consider who might read your words. What started off as a quick interaction between you and a past customer can turn into a heated argument that could haunt your company for years.