Got Bad Online Reviews? Here Are 5 Tips on What to Do

Posted on January 13, 2012 
Filed Under Advertising, General, Internet Marketing, Social Networking

Thumbs DownEven if you run a top notch business, negative customer reviews are going to happen. Though you can and should do everything you can to prevent negative customer reviews, it’s still important to have a plan in place for how to deal with negative reviews if and when they come up.

Here are five tips to help you deal with this kind of negative customer-sourced publicity.

1. Never Ignore It Don't Ignore

Perhaps the worst thing you could do when it comes to negative publicity is ignore it and hope that it disappears on its own. It simply doesn’t. In fact, if anything, it will get worse and worse until you handle the situation.

Assume that any piece of negative review online is an urgent action that needs attention.

2. Respond Quickly

Respond QuicklyIf you respond fast, you’ll be able to keep the fire to a minimum. You’ll also send the message to your consumers that you care and that you’re paying enough attention to catch problems before they become too big.

To illustrate the point with a counter-example, take a look at United Airline’s “United Breaks Guitars” colossal blunder. When a customer who was a musician witnessed seeing his guitar thrown by United Airlines employees and found this guitar broken afterwards, he complained. United refused to pay for the damages.

He wrote a song about it and posted it on YouTube. United Airlines didn’t respond until hundreds of thousands of people already saw the video. Today, the video has over 11 million views. Watch the video here.

If United Airlines had addressed the issue either on the spot or when it became clear that the customer was going to make an issue out of it, they would have saved the company millions of dollars in bad publicity.

3. Learn the Lessons

In every customer complaint is a lesson about how you can better run your business. Learn the lessons

It takes a lot of effort to write a bad review. If someone went through the trouble of creating an account on a review site, spending half an hour typing up the review and then posting it online, chances are someone in your company did something very wrong.

Look at how you can improve your processes or policies. Look at whether or not you have an employee who’s damaging the reputation of your company. Look for ways to ensure that it never happens again.

4. Know What You Can and Can’t Do on Major Sites

Dos and DontsEach industry has its major players in the review space. If you’re a hostel, it might be HostelWorld and TripAdvisor. If you’re a restaurant, it’s Yelp and CitySearch.

Furthermore, there are sites like RipOffReport and the Better Business Bureau that apply to just about any kind of business.

Get to know the policies of the most important sites. Know if you can or can’t take down reviews. Know if you can or can’t post your side of the story for any given review. Know if you can or can’t contest a complaint or resolve it and have it removed.

Knowing what you can and can’t do on these sites gives you more versatility when it comes to formulating an appropriate response.

5. Systematize It  Systematize

If you’re running a small business, you might be able to handle negative customer reviews on a case by case basis. But as your business grows, you’ll want to develop a system for handling it instead.

Having a system for dealing with these kinds of issues will help you make sure that nothing slips through the cracks and goes unaddressed. It’ll also help make sure that issues get resolved in a timely manner. There should be a clear chain of command and clear delegation of who’s responsible for handling these issues.

If you follow these five tips, you’ll be able to handle the vast majority of negative customer remarks that are thrown at you. Though the ideal solution is of course not to get negative remarks at all, it pays to be prepared for when it happens.

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