In this article I’m focusing on Google reviews, but the advice given here can help with negative feedback on all types of social and digital media – basically, anywhere where customers can review your products and services.
If you put it out there…
As companies move into the online space they become increasingly open to criticism.
In the good old days, if a client was unhappy with your service, the worst they could do was bad-mouth you to their friends (or throw a brick through your shop window).
But with the emergence of sites like Google Places, TrueLocal and Facebook business pages, reviews and ‘Likes’ are becoming ever-more-powerful tools for customers to wreak revenge on poor service.
While some sites, such as LinkedIn, let you control the reviews you receive, others like Google and Facebook, put the power firmly in the hands of the reviewer.
This means that if a customer doesn’t like you, they can publish a negative review for all the world to see. Since Google Local pages are such a brilliant business driver (the listings appear higher than the natural site listing for location-based searches), it’s important to have a strategy to deal with any negativity.
I recently scored a negative review on my Google Places page, not from a client but from a fellow copywriter whom I’d never met.
It got me thinking, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on how to deal with negative reviews:
1) Own it
If the complaint is genuine then it’s important that you own up to it.
Obviously one would hope that any bad client experiences could be dealt with face to face before they get to the publicly nasty review stage. So if you have an unhappy client, do your best to make them happy. Sounds obvious, but some of us might think it’s easier just to move on. It’s not.
People are far more likely to share a critique than a compliment (human nature I’m afraid) so it’s best to bite the bullet and try to placate them.
2) Respond publicly
Although ultimately you may be able to negotiate with the client to remove the negative review (CALL THEM!!!): while it’s there it’s doing damage to your business reputation.
“I’m sorry that you’ve had a negative experience with <name of company>. We always aim to deliver the best possible service we can to all our valued customers. Please call me on xxxx or email me on xxx to discuss what we can do to improve your next experience.”
This at least shows other potential clients that you are dealing with the situation. A professional response can counter the negative review and reduce it’s impact.
Here’s a good article explaining how to respond to Google Places reviews.
3) Look for the truth
If there is even the smallest element of truth in the negative comment, then take it on board.
For example, if the customer criticises your customer service, look into what you can do to improve it. Then, in your response, you can actually thank the customer for bringing it to your attention and reassure them of the steps you’ve taken to improve the situation. In doing this, you’re turning a negative into a positive.
4) Try to get more positive reviews
Obviously, the ideal situation is to have so many positive remarks that you can essentially ‘drown out’ the negative ones.
The more positive reviews you have, the better your ‘star rating’, which is a strong visual prompt. Most people are going to pick the company with 5 stars over the ones with 4. So speak to all the clients who have enjoyed your service and ask them to write something nice!
5) Don’t take it personally
If you’re a small business or a sole trader it can be a little bit hurtful to receive a negative comment, especially if you feel it’s unfounded. But getting upset and spitting the dummy is not the way to go.
Just deal with it as best you can and don’t take it to heart. Don’t invest too much time and energy worrying about it and don’t, whatever you do, feel tempted to bite back and spew vitriol onto your Google Places. It makes you look unprofessional.
As Oscar Wilde said: “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about”! So don’t let negative feedback get you down. Simply keep focusing on what you do best and good reviews will come!
Here are some other pages which might help:
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