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How to Resolve Negative Online Reviews

June 19th, 2012 ::

online reviews

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.

Image courtesy of virtualsocialmedia.com

The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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Posted in Branding, Marketing, Social Media | 7 Comments »

  • http://www.qualitylogoproducts.com/blog Jill from QualityLogoProducts

    It’s SO important to keep your cool in situations like this. I’ve seen brands fly off the handle in a public forum and even argue/name-call right along with the customers. It’s not pretty. As tempting as it may be to hop on the defensive, it’s much more effective to calmly assess the situation and smooth things over. Take the higher road!

    • Anonymous

       Totally agree – taking the higher road is ALWAYS the best option – in personal and professional settings. 

    • http://twitter.com/crsofr Chris Miller

      Boners BBQ, anyone? 

  • JESS K

    The ONE negative review we have had is from an EVIL person that could not be pleased if his life depended on it!  He denied all the charges on his credit card bill, even though he took the trip.  The credit card company took the hit when we sent written documentation on the circumstances. We had done two trips for him and he was a nightmare client. Lives 30–40 miles away and came to us, probably had already burned all the travel agents in his area!  The loser forgot about his negative review of us and actually called AGAIN for a trip! We just old him what he wanted was sold out, and the only thing available was $1000. over his budget.  

    • Anonymous

       Oh wow, that is awful – I am so sorry you had to deal with a customer like that Jess, but yes, there are miserable people out there who can’t be pleased.  This is a prime example of how one bad review among a sea of good reviews is meaningless – and only casts the bad reviewer in a bad light.

  • Unhappy customer

    I am missing a buch of email on Network Solutions Account. I have been on hold for 30 minutes. This is by far not the first time. This company spends their time aggressivey marketing various services we do not need. But no customer support. I am a very unhappy network solutions customer. Here, resolve this. I betcha you will just delete it. But I am posting this every place on the web I can, while I am on hold. Why don’t you keep me on hold some more.

    • Anonymous

      No, we actually don’t delete comments like this, as we want to help! We apologize for the delay. If you still need assistance from our support team, please send them your domain name, contact info, and the details of your comment: http://www.networksolutions.com/contact/index.jsp. Thanks for your patience.