How to Manage Negative Online Reviews

A survey commissioned by Canadian Tire in 2017 found that online reviews and ratings impact 80% of our purchasing decisions!

With research also suggesting that most buyers are looking for a valid reason to trust the product assessments they read online, it’s clear that authentically positive reviews are a powerful way to drive customers to your business.

But what to do about those web-based criticisms that paint less than a glowing picture of your company?

While some unfavourable feedback is inevitable, taking note of these 3 key Do’s and Don’ts will help you manage negative online reviews more effectively.

1. Don’t disregard negative feedback

As tough as they can sometimes be to acknowledge, ignoring bad reviews won’t make them go away. All it’s likely to do, in fact, is send a message to your audience that you’re not truly invested in providing them with a positive experience.

The less attention you pay to what customers are saying about your business online, the greater the risk any criticism expressed will drive potential buyers away.

What to do instead

When negative online reviews happen, a little damage control can go a long way to preserving your company’s good name.

Instead of allowing hurt feelings or the drive to defend your business lead you down the wrong path, do this instead:

  • Step back and let any emotion settle before replying to a negative review
  • Order your thoughts so you can address points made methodically and pragmatically
  • Write a test reply and either email it to yourself to review later, or ask a colleague or friend to take a look

The aim is to ensure your response is polite and objective – and that it demonstrates a sincere attempt to put right any concerns or problems your reviewer has shared.

2. Don’t retaliate

Unfortunately, there will always be some buyers who use the internet as a place to vent their frustration, rather than as a tool for making companies aware of genuine shortcomings in their products or customer service.

To avoid adding fuel to a potentially damaging reputational fire, it’s important not to let yourself get drawn into a back-and-forth debate with an online reviewer.

What to do instead

The best way to put a lid on an escalating interaction is to:

  • Make it clear online that you’re ready, willing, and able to resolve the contributor’s issue
  • Offer to connect offline (by mail or business phone, for example) to help make that happen

By setting boundaries and tempering your response, you’ll show you’re very much a professional who’s happy to accommodate your customers’ needs.

3. Don’t try to hide negative results with false positives

Camouflaging negative comments behind a flurry of positive customer feedback may help to a point – but only if those testimonials are authentic (80% of Canadians surveyed are looking for truthful product reviews written by real people).

Offering to trade your product or service for a positive review, for example, isn’t just unethical, many third-party sites use filtering options specifically to show feedback attributed to verified buyers.

What to do instead

Instead of trying to ‘buy’ your way out of a negative rating, your business’s customer base will fare better if you:

  • Acknowledge what’s been said with an appropriate response
  • Take action to correct and prevent the upset from happening again
  • Communicate and promote measures taken – along with the results – on your website or social media accounts

Rather than letting negative online reviews deflate you, try using them as a means to identify problems in need of attention. By keeping an eye on common concerns especially, you can help prevent today’s unmet client expectations from becoming tomorrow’s business failure.

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