One star. That’s all they’ve given you. And beside that horrifying display of displeasure, they’ve listed a barrage of scathing remarks–in bold print, for the whole world to see. Not only is your ego severely bruised, but your stellar online reputation has been indelibly smeared.
You want to strike back while your wounds are still fresh, but wait. Before you add kerosene to an inferno, take a step back, inhale some deep calming breaths, and proceed with caution.
1. Examine the situation
Cool heads usually prevail, so you need to calm down and examine the review objectively. Set aside your injured feelings, and try to adopt the reviewer’s perspective. Though difficult to admit, it is possible that this individual did have a negative experience and that their comments are perfectly justified.
When you remove emotions from the equation, you are less likely to catastrophize the situation and better able to form a logical and effective next step.
2. Make amends
Eating the proverbial “crow” can be a bitter dish, but the alternative is suffering loss of business and a severely scuffed internet image. No matter how much the crow will stick in your craw, you need to admit your failings and set things right.
- Admit wrongdoing. Fessing up to your mistakes will not only help to smooth things over with your disgruntled reviewer, but it will make you look like a caring person who values their clientele.
- Make it right. Reach out to your unhappy customer and identify solutions that will right the wrongs. Find out what it will take to restore their faith in you and your company. Even if you cannot win back this particular customer’s future business, your willingness to make amends will impress anyone who sees this exchange–including future visitors to that review site.
- Do it gladly. Remember to choose your words carefully. No matter how much you want to tell your reviewer to take a “flying leap,” you must conduct this exchange politely. Offer your resolution cheerfully. You are, after all, trying to restore your public image, so make sure you are on your very best behavior.
3. Make it the exception
One bad review in a mountain of positive press is not going to garner much attention–so you need to build the mountain.
- Encourage your happiest clientele to create and post reviews on sites that pertain to your industry.
- Create ways for your clientele to contact you directly to prevent them from taking future complaints–not that you’ll have any, of course–to third party sites. Launch a company website, start a blog, and create social media accounts.
- Use the internet to garner a fan base. Post an informative YouTube video, guest blog on quality blogs pertaining to your industry, collect like’s on Facebook, showcase new products on Pinterest, encourage “endorsements” on LinkedIn, and garner +’s on Google+.
4. Monitor your good name
The best defense against future attacks is, of course, identifying problem areas and correcting them. Train your staff to maintain excellence in customer service, offer only the best products and services, and learn from past mistakes.
In case something does go wrong, make sure to watch out for ripoff reports and negative reviews on sites like ripoffreport.com, Yelp, Angie’s list, TripAdvisor, and Zagat’s. If bad news does pop up, you will be able to handle it quickly–before it can do damage.
The trick to coping with a negative online review is to remain calm and use your noggin. So, bandage your wounds, put down the kerosene, and find your inner happy place. You can make things right.
What measures have you taken to handle a negative online review? Which ones worked and which ones failed?
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