How Do You Handle Negative Reviews Online?

Earlier this week, I talked to an assisted living conference about using social media for their facilities. Choosing where you or a loved one will live in their later years is a very important and personal decision.

Like many companies, they rely heavily on word-of-mouth referrals to generate business. And now, in today’s world, instead of simply being able to share your feedback or recommendation with a friend or two, people can amplify their feedback to hundreds, or even thousands, of people through social media and online reviews.

This is great when the feedback is positive, but what about when a business gets a negative review?

Although this is something that many businesses dread, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. In fact, negative reviews can be a gift!

So how should they — and other businesses like them — handle negative reviews online?

Here are some tips that I shared with them that can also help you:

Monitor conversations about your brand.

To stay on top of what people are saying about your brand, you have to monitor the conversations happening across the web through forums, review sites and social channels.

There are a number of tools that can help you do that. Free or low budget options such as Google Alerts, SocialMention and Trackur can do the job for you fairly well. And, if you need more robust solutions, here are a number of tools that can help.

Never delete bad reviews or comments.

When you find a negative comment or review, it can be incredibly tempting to delete it
  – especially on properties you can control such as your website or Facebook page. But, don’t do it!

Deleting reviews or comments is never a good idea as it makes it seem like you have something to hide. Instead, you should respond to these comments and see what you can do to correct the situation. Doing this can turn a negative experience into a positive one.

Be responsive.

The longer negative reviews or comments sit on a site, it will only fester and get worse. It’s important to respond quickly and appropriately. That’s why it’s so important to have monitoring tools in place.

Listen to concerns.

When people leave bad reviews, most of the time, they just want to be heard. Instead of dismissing a review, take the time to really listen to what they have to say and see if there are ways you can improve what you are doing. Although many negative comments are completely unfounded, there is often a nugget of truth in their statements.

Use it as opportunity to educate.

Oftentimes, people criticize because they are uninformed. You can use this as an opportunity to educate people on policies, practices and how things work at your company. Never be condescending, but you can definitely respond in a way that helps customers better understand your business.

Make things right.

If you did indeed foul-up, then go out of your way to make things right. Doing this can turn a critic into a raving fan.

And, if you’re not sure how to correct the situation, just ask! Oftentimes, the customer will have ideas in mind on what you can do to make them feel better about their experience.

Improve your efforts.

Getting feedback can be an incredibly useful way to see how you can make your business better. Once you’ve responded to the commenter and handled their individual issue, look for ways you can improve your service and processes to prevent further issues in the future.

How do you handle negative reviews? What have you seen that works really well?

Image credit: Kalavinka


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Laura Click

Laura Click is brand strategist, speaker, podcaster and the founder of Blue Kite. Learn more about Laura and her work at Blue Kite.

2 replies on “How Do You Handle Negative Reviews Online?”

Hi Laura,

Always a relevant topic and your tips are conclusive. Personally, I can’t think of another that would enhance this post. I spend most of my time working with customers IRL and I find these tips translate well. Do you know Adam Toporek at Adam writes regularly on the topic of how to handle customer relations.

BTW, got here via Jayme Soulati that great connector of ours. Cheers.

Thanks for the comment, Ralph! So good to see you here. 🙂

And yes, I absolutely know Adam and read his blog regularly. He’s great on customer service. I’m actually in a tribe with both he and Jayme! Great connectors! 🙂

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