Negative reviews don’t vanish into thin air. You know the phrase ‘out of sight, out of mind?’
It’s not true in this instance. The only mind they’re out of is yours, not your customers, and not your potential customers.
So what are you going to do about it?
We manage lots of social media accounts, website and Google My Business pages so we see a LOT of negative reviews. Not because we have bad clients, quite the opposite, but because as humans, we all like a bit of a moan.
But we also know that in the last 6 months, as much as 80% of the negative reviews received on platforms we manage, are either exaggerated or completely untrue. And in many cases, they could have been avoided. But that’s another story.
For now, we’re just going to look at what you can do when you get them.
DON’T IGNORE THEM!
That is complete insanity.
A review, good or bad is the start of a conversation. Just as you should be thanking customers who take the time to leave a positive review, you should be acknowledging the negative reviews as well.
Your silence makes it look like you don’t care, and that you didn’t reply because it was true. And we’ve already established that many of them aren’t. So don’t let untruths and distortions of facts affect your business.
Yes, horrible isn’t it? But suck it up buttercup, you’re going to rise above it and thank them for getting in touch. Now everyone can see that you’ve acknowledged that they have a problem, and you’re going to be nice about it. Already, we feel warmer towards you.
DON’T APOLOGISE FOR WHAT THEY HAVE SAID HAPPENED.
As we’ve said a few times now, it may not be true. And we don’t believe you should say sorry for something that you didn’t do or didn’t happen. It can imply culpability and you don’t want a page full of mistakes you’ve said sorry for!
Let them know that you’re going to look into it for them and that you’ll be in touch. This buys you time, can stop a second, or third or fourth review appearing on every other platform in the world.
TAKE IT OFFLINE
Ask them to send their direct contact details to you via Direct Message, Email or Messenger (depending on which platform the negative review has been left on). You may be able to identify the customer from your database in which case you can let them know that you’ll be in touch that way. They now know you’re taking it seriously and they’re happy because they have your ear.
ESTABLISH THE FACTS
But don’t be long. Negative reviews can spread like a virus and escalate quickly. Investigate internally what happened and respond to your customer via the contact details you hold for them, or the offline method they requested in the step above. If it’s taking longer than an hour or so, then check back in with them and let them know you’re still looking into it and someone will be in touch soon.
DON’T PASS THE BUCK
So, let’s be real about this, sometimes these reviews hit the internet because an initial complaint to a member of staff wasn’t taken seriously in the eyes of the customer. The online complaint is already an ‘escalation’ and they don’t want it taken back down the process. Don’t fan the flames by suggesting that anyone other than someone with some clout in the business is going to be dealing with it.
CHECK IF YOU NEED TO POST AN UPDATE ON THE NEGATIVE REVIEW
This is where a degree of sensitivity to the situation will help. You might want to add another message online that you have been in touch via email, or you were happy to speak to them on the phone and find a resolution. This does show some acceptance of your part in the negative review but (if it’s true) admitting that you did make a mistake isn’t a bad thing. It shows balls, and respect and will do more good than harm if you can take it on the chin.
You may not be able to locate that customer in your records and suspect it might be spam, so you can reply to say you have no record of that customer but they can get in touch (via your offline methods as above) if you’re mistaken. You need to be 100% certain that’s the case before you post or you could end up with egg on your face!
We have the odd occasion where our client feels they need to put the facts out there and correct the customer but these instances are rare and usually only when serious defamation has taken place.
Try not to drag it out. When you’re managing lots of platforms, it’s tiresome keeping an eye on all of them all the time so yo uwant this wrapped up quickly for their sake and yours.
LEARN FROM IT
So whilst not all reviews are accurate and true, they can sometimes show where your business is falling down. Devise a simple tally chart for the things that get complained about, like postage, the reception staff, a particular team-member, accessibility etc. If you see a particular area cropping up much more frequently than others, we say there’s often no smoke without fire, and that small fire might need putting out before it becomes a raging, damaging inferno.
BLOCK? DON’T BLOCK?
You can’t block them from everywhere and may well end up telling other people that you blocked them and that’s not a good look. Unless they’re unreasonable, deranged sociopaths in which case most normal people can tell that and will be more amused by their review than anything else. Unless…
…they don’t go away. If you’ve done everything you can and they won’t leave you alone, block away. You don’t need to put up with a daily diatribe of negativity.
An example of a response to a poor review might be…
“Thank you for getting in touch. Please could you send us more information to …. (or by…) so that we/our management team/I can look into this for you. Many thanks.”
If you have a customerservice@ email address, or a manager@ address, this shows them that their message will get to the right people and will potentially halt the march of negativity across the world wide web.
As we mentioned at the start, negative reviews can if not be avoided, then at least minimised significantly with the right review management strategy in place. And negative reviews also need balancing with positive reviews which even for companies with incredible customer service, believe it or not, are much harder to come by, so you need to focus on generating those as well.
We can help you put a reputation management strategy together that you can manage yourself, or we can do it for you. If you’d like to discuss getting one implemented, just drop us a message!