While the goal will always be to have a positive online presence, we don’t have the ability to completely control exactly what is said about our organizations online. The rapid expansion of social media brings with it all kinds of opportunities to connect with potential customers and increase our clientele. But the flip side is that there’s also the possibility for someone who is upset to rant about us—for all the world to see.
Typically, when we receive negative comments or feedback (whether in person or online), our first response is probably not the best one. The good news is that online platforms give us the opportunity to think before responding. And that allows us to handle difficult situations with professionalism while mitigating damage and improving your company at the same time.
Don’t Stress. First, don’t get too upset. If your organization has received negative online feedback, it’s truly not the end of the world. Bad reviews alone don’t have the power to destroy your business. In fact, some customers have indicated that they may even trust your company more if they see a few negative reviews because it adds legitimacy and honesty to the review process.
Listen Carefully. Before responding, it’s critical to listen to the feedback. Determine if the feedback is useful and constructive and if it is, take it to heart. Remember there’s always room for improvement and if there’s an opportunity for your organization to learn something or correct a mistake, then you should certainly take advantage of this.
Make it Right. If you have the option to correct the problem, do so. Whether it’s replacing a faulty product with a functional one, offering a refund, or providing a replacement at no charge, do what you have to in order to make it right. If you are changing a procedure or policy in order to fix this problem corporately, let the customer know that as well. It might relieve them to know that this won’t happen to others in the future.
Be Humble and Honest. If the customer truly has experienced a flaw in your product or service, be humble and apologize. A customer will be more respectful if you are willing to admit a mistake—as long as you are willing to make it right!
Thank Your Customer. Be sure to communicate your appreciation to your customer for their business—even though they may have caused you a headache. Thanking your customer will go far in improving your relationship with the customer.
Know When to Let It Go. Sometimes you’ll come to a point where you realize that there’s nothing you can do to please a person. In fact, there are times when engaging with negative feedback will only exacerbate the problem. In these cases, it truly is best to simply do nothing and let it go. Even if it hurts your pride a bit, your company will benefit when you can use wisdom and simply rise above it.
Take It Out of the Public Eye. One way to solve negative online review problems is to take it offline. Making the situation more personal through email and/or a phone call may help to minimize the damage while allowing the customer to see that you are serious about taking care of them personally.
Don’t Forget to Follow Up. Once you think that you’ve solved the problem, go ahead and follow up. Make sure that the customer is reasonably satisfied and do what you can to leave the relationship on a healthy level.
Keep Getting Positive Reviews. Most people see a one-off negative review as an outlier. As long as your organization continues to receive positive reviews from your customers who are pleased, a limited number of negative reviews should not impact your business.