It can happen to the best of us – the dreaded negative online review. Maybe a disgruntled customer gave you an ugly shout-out on Yelp. Or, maybe someone on Facebook “disliked” you in a huge way.
Even if you are unsure of how you displeased someone enough to make a heinous, very public remark about you, you can definitely be sure of this – that negative review can do serious damage to your brand if you do not respond swiftly and thoroughly. In this article, I’ll show you how to do both.
The first thing to do is understand that you are not in control. Social media has given people the power to share, and you simply cannot control what people will share about you.
However, you do not have to be in control to respond effectively if a fire does break out on Yelp or any other review site. Smart reputation management will allow you to shape the message, even if you cannot control it.
Resonate Social’s Eric Harr writes about three things to look for, as you manage your online reputation, as well as three things to do if you come across something negative. Let’s go through each of these.
Keep an Eye Out for:
1. Your overall rating
If your overall rating is good on Yelp, Amazon or other review sites, one negative post probably won’t cause much damage. People tend to understand that an aggregate rating, in light of the total number of reviews, provides a clearer picture than any one review can. In general, 4 out of 5 stars is no cause for concern. If you find a negative review, simply reach out to the poster with a diplomatic and public statement.
2. Credibility of the reviewer
Is the reviewer well-known on the review site? Is their review well-composed, fact-based, and non-emotional? If so, it’s time for some serious damage control.
3. Stability of the reviewer
Now, this one may not sound nice, but then again – neither did their review. Does the reviewer come across as unstable? If so, you may not need to worry as much. Most people can detect instability, and most people are also reasonable and forgiving. They may simply overlook a crazed, poorly constructed ramble written in ALL CAPS WITH LOTS OF EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!
Putting Out the Fire
If things get ugly, here are three ways to do damage control:
1. Reach out to the person privately
If you made a mistake, own up to it. Being humble and accommodating can help turn your biggest critic into one of your biggest fans because you have the chance to make a personal connection with him or her. Focus on how to make it right, rather than on the negative review, and keep your frustration at bay. Often, an open and honest dialogue is all you need to set things straight.
2. Keep your cool
Whatever happens, do not allow yourself to get drawn into a fight. When someone is rude, it can be very difficult not to lose your temper and argue back. However, now is the time to be calm and professional, remembering that your brand’s reputation is more important than your personal feelings on the matter.
3. Go public
This may be the most important thing you can do. A concise, sophisticated, and decisive public statement can help smooth the incident over relatively quickly. You may not be able to win over the critic, but your public statement will be observed by thousands of other people. Your goal is to win those people over by being diplomatic and professional, while showing that you care about your brand and your customers.
In today’s word-of-mouth environment, your customers are more likely to listen to one of their peers than to your official marketing messages. So if the dreaded online negative review happens to you, try these tips for salvaging your reputation and keeping your brand strong.
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