We live in a world where everybody has a voice. The rising use of social media has made this much easier as people can now discuss various topics across the world. Many platforms have also taken center stage and are used by consumers to air their views concerning a particular brand. While one of the best marketing strategies is getting your customers to leave a review on a chosen site, the tables can also turn.
Nobody is perfect. No business is perfect, either. There could be tons of reviews concerning your business out there. But you may find yourself being on the receiving end of critics and negative comments. While some of them would be termed as sensible complaints, others just sound bitter.
So what will you do when you find yourself in such a situation? How will you handle the negative reviews? How can you prevent further damage from occurring? Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you manage the negative reviews like a pro.
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Before diving in, it would be prudent to understand how (and if) bad reviews can actually be a good thing for your business.
How Bad Reviews Can Help Your Business
Did you know that when your business only has positive social media reviews, some cautious users begin to question your brand’s legitimacy? It is no brainer that there are tons of fake and paid for reviews on almost every platform. This has become an issue that the modern-day customer has come to notice, and that’s precisely why you should not get rid of negative reviews.
However, having a mixture of both positive and negative reviews makes your business appear realistic. It becomes so real that 65% of buyers often search for negative reviews to determine if they should purchase the product.
Either way, having too many negative reviews can harm your business. For example, when you show the star rating of your product on search engine result pages, a low score will give users a negative impression. Therefore, you ought to stay alert at all times and try to minimize the damage these reviews or comments can make on your brand.
Fortunately, these negative online reviews do not have to result in loss of business. Use these ten tips to turn them into an opportunity to attract even more customers.
How to Effectively Handle Negative Online Reviews
1. Accept the review: You can’t please everyone
“You cannot make everyone happy.” We all know this, but the phrase gets a whole new meaning when you’re running a business ‒ and trying to please everyone. It is not a fun lesson to learn from an online review platform that someone doesn’t like your products or services. Some negative reviews are hard to take in, and you may lack an idea of how to respond to it.
Before you starting beating yourself up, do not take things too personally. You should know that in as much as you try to provide the best to make your clients happy, people will always have different tastes, and not everyone will be satisfied with your brand.
Moreover, remember that we are only human and prone to making mistakes. Maybe the bad review resulted from something either you or an employee did that didn’t go well with the customer. Don’t let this distract you from loving what you do and your customers. Always know that you can’t please everyone, as it will prepare you mentally for any negative reviews you’ll find online.
2. Don’t ignore negative comments
The worst thing you can do to your brand is to ignore the negative comments or reviews. While it is advisable to respond to every comment made online ‒ whether positive, negative, or neutral, overlooking a negative comment is unforgivable. In fact, when looking through reviews, potential customers will go through the negative comments more and try to see how you handled them.
Maintaining good public relations is a necessity for building your brand and connects you with your followers. Do not ignore the negative comments, lest this will only make the customers angrier, prompting them to write even more negative reviews. While it can be challenging handling some of them, you should approach such comments strategically.
3. Be empathetic
As you go through a negative review, you should put yourself in the customer’s shoes. To offer a review in the first place, most of them must have already tried out your product, only not to get satisfied. It would be prudent to take your time to understand what truly upset them before becoming defensive.
In most cases, these customers only want someone to hear out their frustrations. Once they notice that the company is listening, they are more likely to create a connection and take a step back.
4. Apologize sincerely
Even though you may disagree with their comments, the famous maxim, “the customer is always right,” is applicable. The first step of conflict resolution is issuing a sincere apology. If the company was involved in a social media scandal and is on the receiving end of lots of negative comments and reviews, the company head or representative should offer a public apology.
For you to save your brand, all your responses ought to be polite. Always avoid using swear words even if the customer comes at you with them ‒ it wouldn’t help fix the situation either way. Try to remain calm as your loyal customers are also watching, and the moment you show your real emotions, they will change their opinion on your brand. Be polite and as friendly as possible when dealing with negatives.
Furthermore, you don’t necessarily have to offer the apology on a single platform. You can choose other online channels, such as the use of podcasts, to talk directly with your customers. Having an assuring voice in their ears is one way to make them remain loyal to your brand, hence increasing future sales.
5. Take it out of the spotlight
One of the best ways to resolve a conflict is by shifting the conversation from an open forum to a more private platform to have one-on-one conversations with the customer. You can ask them to direct message you, send you an e-mail, or contact customer support. It would make them feel better if you asked them to message you their contact details, which you will use to communicate with them as you sort out the issue.
Refrain from the ‘word battle’ in the comment section. If a customer is frustrated, they can write tons of negative comments and replies, which can eventually make others have a negative attitude towards your brand. If you wish to save the image of your brand, take the discussion off the spotlight.
6. Reply instantly
People expect rapid online replies. Don’t make an angry customer wait long for your reply. Nearly 50% of customers want a response within the hour of raising a complaint, while about 30% of them expect a response within 30 minutes. Slow responses will make your customers think that you’re ignoring them, and even if you put efforts into conflict resolution at a later stage, no one will appreciate it.
The “I don’t have time” line doesn’t cut when you’re conducting business in a digital world. You must find the time to go through the comments and reviews posted about your products. You may scroll past the positive reviews to respond to them at a later time but never ignore the negative ones.
7. Explain yourself
At times, errors do occur even with an air-tight strategy in place for running your operations. Moreover, we are all human, and mistakes do occur. Customers feel frustrated when you do not explain why something did or did not happen.
Explain what exactly caused the problem and what your company is doing to resolve the issue. You need to put in so much effort to make customers satisfied, lest you end up losing on business.
Besides, it is crucial that you let your customers note that not every issue they face is the fault of your company. For instance, if an airline cancels a flight due to bad weather, the passengers shouldn’t blame it for arriving late.
However, there should be a clear line between explaining yourself and giving excuses. Even if it is the truth, do not try to pass the blame on others by giving excuses for your shortcomings. Instead of saying things like “we were understaffed,” try going with, “this was uncharacteristic of us and we would like to make it right.”
8. Ignore or remove abusive comments
The good thing about social media is that you have full control over your social media accounts. Your main social platform is where most of your customers will come to express what they feel about your services or air their complaints, if any. However, while some negative comments are actually genuine, others are just there to bring down your business.
If you notice that every effort you make to calm things down is going in vain, you’re better off ignoring them. Should the customer continue uttering abusive slurs and you feel that things are getting out of hand, you have the power to remove their comments. Do not let such comments that promote negativity and depicting violence through the use of abusive language taint your online reputation.
9. Learn from your mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes, and if your company does so, do not panic. However, we should learn from our mistakes and put measures to prevent them from happening again in the future. Consider negative comments as a source of information. By reading through every comment, you’ll have a glimpse of what consumers don’t like about your business and figure out how you can improve on those areas.
10. Generate more positive comments and reviews
It’s technically impossible to avoid negative comments on social media. However, it is possible to minimize the damage that they can have on your brand. But what’s the easiest way to do that? Generating more positive reviews to outshine the negative ones is an excellent strategy that you can easily accomplish.
Having 20 negative comments can hurt your brand if there are only 10 positive reviews. However, if the positive comments are over 100 with the same 20 negative reviews, the damage will be minimized. So how will you get more positive comments?
Here are a few essential tips to consider:
- If you feel like a customer is satisfied with your services or products, ask them to leave a review on your social platforms or particular review sites. Remember not to dictate whatever they write as a generic review can easily be seen.
- Strive to create engaging social media content that boosts engagement.
- Try to develop a good relationship with your loyal customers by responding to every positive or neutral comment.
- Humor is an ice-breaker. Use it wisely as this is a platform where people are allowed to become social.
Wrapping It Up
Negative comments and reviews are not a major problem if managed in the right manner. Remember that even large corporations get tons of bad reviews every other day, yet their revenues continue to skyrocket. The secret to success only lies in how you communicate with angry and unsatisfied customers.
Be attentive to all the issues your customers highlight. By reacting to them in a friendly manner, you display to the world that your number 1 priority is your customer’s satisfaction and happiness. The simple act of proper management of negative social media reviews earns you a stronger and devoted audience in the long run.