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Handling Negative Online Reviews of Your Business

Here are some ideas on handling those pesky online business reviews.

The best defense is a great offense. You don’t have to address negative reviews if you never have them in the first place. Proactively identify possible negative experiences and encourage customers to respond directly to you to resolve their issues.

Know your dissatisfied reviewer. Before responding, conduct research on the customer. Are they habitual complainers? Online forums have created many of these types of customers. On the other hand, people easily get frustrated with poor service and are simply at their wit’s end. It’s important to know the difference.

Fix the problem. When you get a negative review, identify the customer and contact them directly. Then work with them to solve their problem. If a solution is not possible, be willing to cancel their service or refund their money. While you may not like the solution if the customer is unreasonable, at least they are not out any money. Then consider the experience a gift. You either now have a process that can be improved or you have identified a complainer you do not want as a customer. Either way, your business is better off! Once this is done, ask the customer to rave about how you solved their problem!

Write your response. Remember, your written response to the complaint is meant for future readers of the complaint. Your response should contain the following elements:

  • Acknowledge the customer’s feelings
  • Restate the problem
  • Explain how you solved the problem
  • Encourage the complainer to contact you directly in the future so you can handle their issue more effectively than through a public forum
  • Avoid acting defensive, over-apologetic, or getting into a back-and-forth discussion

Today’s review systems give entirely too much power to a few complainers. Your goal is to use these systems to your advantage to find new buyers by showing great customer service!