95% of people now check reviews before buying. But that’s not news to you. You understand that and do everything you can to deliver a quality product and service. But what should you do when customers don’t see it your way and write a bad review? Here’s how to navigate these uncomfortable situations and often turn them into a positive for your business.
1. Respond quickly
The Internet doesn’t run from 9 to 5. And it doesn’t shut down on weekends. The longer a negative review remains in an “unresponded to” status, the more damage it can do.
This isn’t to say you have to put out a red alert when you get a terrible review and respond immediately. But this certainly isn’t something to put off for days.
When you respond quickly, you also have an opportunity to resolve the situation and have the review removed or updated by the reviewer.
2. Try Not to Take it Personally
Recognize that this review isn’t about you, at least not “You,” the person. Even if the reviewer explicitly calls out a person at your company (or You), it may not even be about that individual.
Don’t let ego get in the way of common sense.
Most often, perception does not align with reality. And your point of power is in managing both the perception and the reality to whatever extent possible.
So if you are overpromising and under-delivering, that’s certainly something to evaluate to reduce the risk of getting these kinds of reviews in the future.
3. Don’t Throw Blame Around
You want to blame it on technology or someone in the office. But assigning blame to someone else looks like an excuse and a shirking of responsibility for the person’s experience.
Instead, empathize, reassure, investigate, and correct issues if there is an issue to correct.
4. Avoid Creating a Scene
Some people thrive on creating a scene online, especially when sending “reviews” through social media. They want to get a rise out of you so they can say, “See, they’re the ones who are in the wrong. Look at them getting defensive.”
Transparency is essential, but you shouldn’t feed someone who could be a troll. So take the issue off-line whenever possible. This can defuse the situation by taking the emotions out, especially if the reviewer is partially driven by social support.
Reassure the reviewer (and anyone else who might see it) that this is the only way you’ll engage with them and the only way to resolve this with the customer.
5. Request the Removal of Misleading Reviews
If you see a review that is fake or misleading, you can ask the third-party review site to review that review. That’s a lot of reviews.
Some review sites will be easier to work with than others.
But know that the law is on your side. In the USA, for example, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) protects a customer’s right to leave a disparaging review that includes “honest opinions”. They state that this includes posting on social media.
However, the FTC also states that it’s okay to remove (or request removal of) reviews that meet certain guidelines:
- Contains confidential, libelous, harassing, vulgar, or otherwise inappropriate information
- Unrelated to the product/service
- Clearly false or misleading
However, proving some of these violations can be difficult. And review sites will not make a request to remove a review lightly. So choose your battles.
Companies can take legal action if they think they may have a case. Recently, a roofing company sued a couple for over $100,000 in damages after they both allegedly wrote 1-star reviews after the company withheld information from the couple because the individuals were not legally entitled to that information because the contract was with their landlord.
6. Get More Positive Reviews
One of the best things you can do to combat bad reviews is to get more good ones. Encourage customers to write reviews in general. If you have decent business practices, then the goodwill far outweighs the bad. But often, people need encouragement to write reviews when they’re happy. Don’t be afraid to ask.
7. Control What They See First
The power of reviews is in the fact that they’re the first thing people see. And first impressions matter.
So, increase your online presence on social media, important review sites, and in Google search. You can do this by employing strategies related to social media management, reputation management, and Miami SEO.
Ultimately, if one awful review could collapse your house of cards, you need to broaden your strategy to influence customer opinion. These are just some of the ways you can do that.