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How to handle Bad Reviews Online

June 4, 2016 - fifteen

Let’s face it, bad reviews happen. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best company in the world, with an award-winning customer service department and many awards to show for your work, bad reviews will happen. Look at some of the biggest companies, and you’ll see negative reviews. In some cases it may just be a case of the customer not seeing eye-to-eye with your systems. In this case, it just means that you were not the right company for the customer in question. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a bad company.

What truly highlights a good company though, is their ability to handle this negative feedback. Sometimes, companies’ unique ways of dealing with bad reviews goes viral, and cements the marketing proverb “all publicity is good publicity”. But, that’s only the case if you make it so.

So, how do you turn bad reviews around? How do you take someone’s negative feedback, and use it to highlight how good your company is?

We’re here to help.

Be Quick Off The Mark

As soon as you see a negative review, you should start putting together a response immediately. Your ability to respond to bad reviews promptly and efficiently will paint your company in a good light, and show that you care about your customers.

In order to do this, you need to ensure that you monitor all the review sites you’re listed on (as well as social media) on a regular basis.

But, Take Your Time

It’s no good going in with all guns blazing, telling the customer why they are wrong. You need to take a step back and review the situation before you respond. What is the customer actually saying? Are they right to be annoyed? Could you have dealt with the situation differently? If the answer to those latter two questions is yes, then you need to address that.

Take the time to craft a response that is apologetic, answers the reviewer’s questions, and addresses the issues they have raised. Don’t jump in and start defending yourself, as this will come across negatively to any other customers who read your response.

Make It Public

If you saw a negative review for a product/service you were looking into, and there was no response to the criticism given, would you feel confident buying from that company? The answer is probably “no”.

This is the main reason why you should address the reviewer directly, on whichever platform they have posted their review on. It advertises to potential customers that you are willing to take feedback on board, and that you will deal with any grievances they have immediately. It will also show that you’re not afraid to accept negative reviews, and are more than willing to address them.

But, Keep It Personal

Whilst you want to publicly display your ability to handle criticism well, you do need to add a personal touch to rectify the problem. In your reply, be apologetic and understanding (as above), but then point the reviewer in the direction of the best possible route to resolve your issue.

Adding something along the lines of, “I would love to speak to you further on how we can resolve this issue for you, so if you call me on ### or email ###, I will be more than happy to help”, simultaneously adds a personal touch to the response, as well as taking the conflict away from the public eye.

You’ll notice we used words such as “me”, and “I”. This is very important when dealing with a complaint, as the offended party now has a single person that they can deal with, making them feel more secure in a resolution being reached.

You can always take to the public comment after you’ve resolved their issue, and thank them for their feedback. This will give a potential client the impression that it was resolved well, and may even encourage the reviewer to respond in a more positive light.

Highlight The Positives

When responding to a bad review, this is very important. Obviously, a negative opinion paints your company in a negative light, and you need to assure your current customers (as well as new ones) that this is not the case. Subtly thank them for any positives within the review, whilst building on the positives from other people’s reviews.

This is a great way to turn something that could have been negative into a positive thing, whilst also appealing to the side of them that does have love for your company.

But, Don’t Ignore The Negatives

Nobody likes a company that blows their own trumpet too much without stopping to check that it is actually in tune. What we mean by this is that whilst you should definitely draw upon the positive reviews you’ve received, you shouldn’t get caught up in it.

A person writes a negative review because they are unhappy. The immediate dismissal of their problems, along with a long list of reasons as to why they are wrong, will cause them to feel more so. Without addressing the problems properly, you will only aggravate the situation.

Let’s face it. Nobody’s perfect. If a customer has a complaint, you should always assume that they are correct in their information. They may not have received the perfect service you normally deliver, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Like we said, companies make mistakes, and it is only the reluctance to admit those mistakes that makes for an untrustworthy and reviled business.

If the information is truly false though, and you can prove it, most review sites will gladly remove the offending review for you.

So, in order to deal with negative feedback effectively, you need the perfect blend of apologetic, understanding, complementary, and humility. There pretty much is a recipe for success.

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