Hug Your Haters – Reputation Management and Recovering from Negative Reviews

80608100When your business has an online presence, reviews are a highly visible part of brand management. Unfortunately, customers with negative experiences seem to be the most motivated to get online and vent their opinions. For responsible reputation management, it is important that you respond to those negative reviews in an appropriate way and use reviews to your advantage. As many customers look for your address and phone number by searching online, they will often see a sample of reviews on listings like Google+ and Yelp. The unanswered rants of disgruntled reviewers can impact their choice about whether to actually call and trust your business.

For effective reputation management online, take the following steps in responding to negative reviews:

– Respond in a timely fashion, and do not simply delete negative reviews. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, a range of reviews (including a few less-than-perfect ones) can actually make your business look more trustworthy. A page with only five-star reviews may look suspicious, begging the question of whether negative reviews had been deleted. With the growing number of new review websites, not all of them allow business owners to delete or report negative reviews. On the other hand, a business’s thoughtful response to a negative review shows that they actually care about customer satisfaction. In order to respond quickly, make sure that you claim your listings and check them regularly for new reviews.

– Be sympathetic, professional, and calm. The claims of reviewers may seem entirely false or unjustified, and it’s possible that they were simply having a very bad day at the time. Rather than getting angry and responding in kind, offer a genuine apology that shows you want customers to have a positive experience.

– Move the conversation out of the public view. People need to see that you’ve addressed the reviewer’s concerns, but they don’t need to know whether you offered a refund or some other compensation.

Your online presence is a tool for enhancing your customer service, and negative reviews can sometimes help you improve areas that you didn’t realize customers might see as problematic.