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Reputation Management

Thursday, September 08, 2011
Published in Social Media

Did your business receive a negative review on a review site like Yelp, Google Places or Yahoo Local? How should your company respond to negative reviews?

Don't just ignore it. Letting a bad review sit on its own over time will result in lost profit opportunities. You need to act fast and learn the When and How of reputation management to address the negative review properly.

When to Respond:

Not all bad reviews are created equal. Sometimes going in and engaging a disgruntled customer will help them see your company in a new light and other times you're just opening yourself up to more negative attention. Here are some cases when you should respond :

  • You genuinely need to make amends: Sometimes you just goof. Your company sold a bad product, you gave a tear-inducing haircut, you missed an appointment, etc. Life happens. People understand. If you goofed and someone is legitimately upset about it, it's typically in your best interest to engage them and to do your best to make it right. It often doesn't take much to smooth over one bad experience.
  • They're misstating the facts: Your company is being blasted for giving a reviewer a bad massage and not sticking to the promised 40 percent off coupon. However, you don't offer massages (just haircuts) and you definitely don't offer a 40 percent off coupon (you're cheap). If that's the case, speak up and politely let them know that they may have simply misunderstood something or perhaps they're even getting you confused with another company. If it's a matter of bad facts, you should step in to correct them.
  • When the review develops legs: Sometimes things that shouldn't be a big deal gain traction and "me too" responses anyway. These situations absolutely need to be addressed and need to be addressed fast. Staying quiet simply because you don't think it's serious enough to warrant a response is almost certain to invite the fire to spread beyond Yelp and onto other blogs and news sites. You don't want that to happen. The best way to contain the mess is to handle it at its source. If something is gaining legs, get in the conversation and help calm it down. Often just a few words from you will be enough to soothe the hype and get the conversation back on track.

How to Respond:

Once you decide a review is worth commenting on, you need to handle it with some finesse. Busting in to police a community that you were just yesterday invited into isn't going to win you over any friends. Take some time to get familiar with user attitudes with your company, wait for your hands to stop trembling and THEN keep the guidelines below in mind:

  • Listen: Listen without reacting. The complaints your customers have about your company aren't really about you, they're about them. They're about how they feel. How they were let down. What they need. Find the root of the problem and address that. And sometimes that means looking beyond what they're telling you. Yes, your product may have failed them, but perhaps it was your customer service rep's total disregard for their frustration that really set them off. They're commenting on the site because they want to be heard. Show them they have been.
  • Be Honest: If you're going to engage a negative reviewer, come at them completely honest, sincere and with your hands where they can see them. Apologize for your mistake and let them help you find a way to move forward. Don't make excuses. Don't try to spin it to make yourself look like the victim. If you messed up, apologize and immediately diffuse the situation. If you didn't mess up, then be honest about what happened. Without pointing fingers.
  • Remain Calm: If you can't remain calm in a fight, then you should not be allowed to participate in social media. The moment you lose your cool, you've not only lost the discussion, you've also just thrown 20 gallons of kerosene into the blaze. Good luck making amends with anyone once you've shown that you don't take criticism well and that you haven't yet mastered how to play well with others.
  • Speak Like a Person: If you have an MBA, that's awesome for you. However, your customers don't care and they don't want to hear any of those $10 words or corporate jargon in social media. You will talk like a real person. A real, apologetic person or you will stay the heck away from social media and critical reviewers. People don't like robots or spokespeople who think they're smarter than everyone else.
  • Promise to be better: End your reply with a promise to be better. Whether it's a promise that you'll try harder, make amends, listen more, etc, give them a sign that you heard them, you care, and that you want to be better for them. It'll go a long way in establishing some goodwill.

At PowerPro Live we'll be assisting you in managing your business's online reputation. We'll help you refine and reword your responses in a professional tone so that users can regain confidence in your company. A negative review can hurt your business, but PowerPro Live can help you prevent lost profit opportunities.

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