In today’s world, it’s very common for customers to post reviews online. Reviews on Yelp, Facebook, Google and other places have become a way of life. Many of us use online reviews to gauge whether we should do business with a company.

Unfortunately, some users of these sites post negative reviews. They may be unhappy with the service or the product – or just in a bad mood. But a bad review has real potential to hurt your business, just because online trading of information is so common.

What should you do if your business does receive a poor review online? Here are five tips.

 

  1. Don’t react emotionally

Some negative reviews may cause you to react emotionally. You may think they are just plain wrong. Unfortunately, many people who post online reviews can be thoughtless and even insulting in their language.

 

Never, ever react emotionally. It’s going to make the situation worse. Take the time to compose a thoughtful, professional response. Even if you have to cool off for a day or so.

 

  1. Always respond

The other immediate reaction people may have is to ignore a negative review. That’s not advisable either. A negative message with no response at all may give readers the impression the negative comments reflect a reality. You need to give the other side of the story.

 

In addition, a response makes you seem human. A measured and professional response makes you seem like what you are: A responsible business owner doing a good job for customers.

 

  1. Explain the situation

Your response needs to do one of two things. First, if the negative comment has some merit, acknowledge it. Then, explain what you are doing to rectify the situation. Say, for example, your company produced a product that didn’t operate as it should have. Apologize for that. Give the reason succinctly. State whether you have rectified the situation. (Or are in the process of rectifying it, if it’s still being fixed.) Then, provide a solution. Should you offer a replacement product?

 

Second, what if the negative comment isn’t correct? What if it accuses your business of poor customer service, but you know the customer service department was very professional? In that case, you approach the explanation a little differently. Instead of apologizing, say you are sorry the customer isn’t happy with your product or service. Stress that you always strive for customer satisfaction to the utmost degree. It might be a good idea to offer a replacement or a redo of the experience with you directly. The goal is to achieve customer satisfaction.

 

  1. Reiterate a positive message

When responding to a negative comment online, always end with a positive message about your business. The goal here is to leave a positive impression in customers’ minds. Something like “Our 4.5-star customer service rating is a key indicator of the level of service we’ve achieved over the years” will provide evidence that many customers rate you very highly, to counteract any negative messages.

 

  1. Speak directly with the person if possible

Your objective is always to convert a negative into a positive. To that end, see if it’s possible to communicate directly with the person who commented. Reiterate your commitment to high-quality products and service, and see what would reasonably satisfy the person. If they are happy, ask if they would post a positive review.

 

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