19th Jun 2018

How to spot and handle Negative Online Reviews about your Business

Every business owner who sells products or services should expect to find crumbs of reviews and comments on several online platforms. Sadly, they will not always be the good stuff. Your first negative online review will probably leave you in shock, especially if you don’t remember having a bad encounter with any of your clients.

Some customers prefer to keep quiet about their reservations while patronizing your business but will make sure to warn everyone else on the internet to stay clear. Other times, the customer might have a valid reason for the negative review. Business owners can only control business output to a certain level. You will have to delegate some roles and in the hands of your staff, slip-ups could happen. They could be anything from wrong orders to less-than-expected quality.

Regardless of the reason why your client left you a negative review, you must be able to find these reviews and manage them effectively. Research shows that 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. This means if not dealt with, your potential customers could be finding negative reviews about your business that discourage them from patronizing you.

How to Spot Negative Reviews of your Business

It is very important to be proactive about handling online reviews about your business. People share with their online community everything that happens to them, even their daily purchases. Reviews don’t always go through the traditional review sites.

To spot a brand mention, keep an eye on these platforms:

1. Amazon Customer Reviews
If you sell products on Amazon, then you absolutely need to keep an eye on the customer reviews section. When potential buyers find your product, they always scroll down to learn about your encounter with previous clients, to make sure they don’t get involved with a troublesome seller.

2. Yelp
Yelp is a community of users dedicated to helping other users patronize businesses with only the best services. You can easily set up a business profile, and users are allowed to rate your business, and make comments on value of service. It also provides relevant information like opening hours and location. If you have a steady stream of positive reviews, a Yelp account can help you grow local patronage.

3. Angie’s List
Angie’s List was originally set up as a review site for local businesses, but has grown to become so much more. The platform acts as an intermediary between businesses and disgruntled customers. Their aim is to ensure that their online community patronizes hardworking business owners.

4. Glassdoor
Glassdoor is a site where former employees review their employers, but negative reviews on this platform could also affect your sales. Besides discouraging potential customers from buying from an ‘unfair’ business, it might prove hard to hire the experts you need to run a successful business.

5. Social media
Unlike most review sites, customers don’t have to go to your page on social media to leave a review. They can simply send out a post to their followers sharing their experience with your business. To catch every mention, set up keyword alerts on all your social media pages, and constantly run searches on your business name to see what people are saying.

How to Handle Negative Online Reviews about your Business

1. Stay calm
When you see a negative review, especially one that wasn’t needed, your first instinct might be to respond with the same tone. In this situation, you need to make a conscious effort to calm down. Don’t see the review as a personal insult, or that could seriously affect the way you choose to handle the situation.

2. Respond!
It might seem tempting to ignore the issue and hope it goes away, but remember that once something is published online, it’s out there for everyone to see. It’s not just about the annoyed customer, potential customers are also watching, especially on social media.

A helpful response could get the bad review deleted. Many times, customers just want to be heard. Giving them good customer support will always be the best option, even if their comments were wrong.

3. Do your research
If a customer complains about a product or service, do your research into past orders to find theirs, and determine what went wrong. Ask the customer for their order details to make the search easier for you. Once you find the problem, it will be easier to decide on a solution to offer. That knowledge will also help you and your staff avoid certain mistakes in the future.

4. Decide on the best response method
Depending on the situation, you can choose to respond publicly or privately. A public response will show off your customer support efforts to your audience, but could backfire. It could just invite the reviewer to go on a full rant once they realize that people are now watching. If you choose a private response, you can settle the issue quickly with a customer who is open to giving your business a second chance, or get stonewalled with absolutely no response. Either way, encourage the customer to update their review if you manage to resolve the issue.

5. Respond quickly
Remember that people are watching, including potential customers. Handle negative reviews as quickly as possible to minimize their effect on your business. Let them know that you are genuinely concerned about their brand experience, apologize if necessary, and thank them for bringing an issue to your knowledge.

If it turns out that the reviewer is just a bully looking to lash out, pull yourself from the situation and walk away. If you continue responding, you will be escalating the situation.

To wrap up, you should know that negative reviews aren’t always a bad thing. They help draw your attention to areas in your business that need improvement. It is possible that previous customers encountered that problem, but decided that they will not be buying from you again, rather than complain. Of course, some reviewers take it to the extreme and might try to destroy your brand image, which is why you should always look out for these reviews, and work to resolve them as soon as possible.

So to recap- stay on a lookout for every mention of your brand, use a calm approach to handle the situation, do your research into complaints, determine the best way to respond, and try your best to leave each customer with a satisfactory service.

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