Tips to Combat Negative Online Reviews

Tips to Combat Negative Online ReviewsMany businesses are reaping the benefits of today’s Social Media driven society.   For consumers, peer impressions and online reviews hold much weight, making them an important part of a businesses marketing mix.  However, what happens when your company receives a not so pleasant review?  Or, you find out a customer posted an awful comment about your business on their Facebook page?  Once a bad review or post is out there, it’s there. The fact of the matter is, at some point, most companies will experience some form of negative online feedback.  If (or when) this happens to you, don’t panic. There are steps you can take to help minimize the impact:

Investigate the Comment

One benefit of reviews and comments are they can sometimes offer helpful feedback and/or reveal problems you were unaware even existed.  If you receive a negative review or post, see if you can find out who originated the comment and reach out to them.  Let them know you are very concerned about the negative experience and would like to further discuss the situation with them.  You may find during your discussion that perhaps their complaint is legitimate.  If so, then thank the customer for pointing it out.  Let the customer know you will be taking steps to correct the situation.  Then, invite them back, “on the house”.  Tell them you want to transform their negative experience into a positive one.  Often, addressing the situation and turning it around will prompt the person posting the negative review to amend their comments, or at least write a new “positive” review.

If Comment is Blatant Libel, Report It

Sadly, sometimes competitors, disgruntled employees or unsatisfied customers will write something that is completely untrue.  Remember, “Opinions” do not qualify as libel.  However, if something is said about your company that is a blatant lie and is damaging your business, then consult legal counsel.  Some sites and blogs also have areas you can go to report misuse or abuse.  Google Blogger, for example, has a “Report Abuse” link.

Set the Record Straight

Honestly is always the best policy.  If your company made a mistake, own up to it.  Regardless of the situation, always set the record straight with your customers.  If it appears that the “review” is going to linger and prompt questions from your current customers, prepare a statement and advise all of your employees on your company’s position.  You can issue a statement through a e-newsletter, Social Media or personal calls to customers.  If the problem seems to be “bigger” than just your customers, consult a public relations professional.

Ensure the Good Always Outweighs the Bad

When a negative comment is buried amongst a plethora of positive comments, it loses its steam.  Encourage satisfied customers to write online reviews, and reward them for doing so by offering them some sort of coupon, discount or incentive for their feedback.

As you can see, you do have options to combat negative online reviews and posts.  Not panicking and clearly thinking through the situation is imperative.  Often, it is not the comment itself but how it is handled that can have the most impact on a business.

About Gina Smith

Gina Smith is a marketing strategist and public relations consultant.  She writes freelance articles for magazines, online outlets and publications including Global Response. Smith covers the latest topics in the business, golf, tourism, technology and entertainment industries.