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How to Handle Negative Online Reviews

One of the biggest arguments I get from business owners about not wanting to establish an online presence is the threat of customers posting negative comments or complaints on the web. Sure, it’s a possibility. You can’t please all the people all the time, right? But there’s no need to run and hide. In fact, feedback (positive and negative) is a critical component to running a successful business. The key is knowing how to handle that feedback in a way that minimizes the damage and effectively puts out the fire. Here are a few tips on how to handle negative online reviews with professionalism.

  1. Pay Attention – You can’t respond to negative comments unless you are aware of them. Keep on top of what’s being said about your company by periodically doing searches for your business name. Check Twitter, Facebook and set up a Google alert that will automatically catch any mentions of your company elsewhere on the web.
  2. Be Proactive – Most business complaints occur after several unsuccessful attempts to get the attention of the owner. Staying on top of your customer’s concerns and addressing them in a timely manner can lessen the chances of a negative review being sent out into cyber-space.
  3. Respond – For some business owners, it seems easier to just ignore negative comments. But this can cause a devastating snowball effect, especially if the complaint has anything to do with service or lack of attention. Take the time to form a response that is professional, addresses the underlying concern and offers a solution whenever possible. According to a recent Retail Consumer Report study, 34% of people who received a response to their online complaint deleted their negative review, and another 33% went back and added a positive comment so responding is a big deal.
  4. Suck it Up and Learn – It’s never easy to hear a complaint about your business, but negative feedback is the best way to understand your customers and their needs. Knowing what your customers want, need and expect from you can help you to continuously improve and become even better at what you do. So when you see a negative comment, read it and learn from it.

Every business owner will inevitably have to face a negative review – it’s par for the course. By carefully staying on top of what’s being said about your business and addressing these concerns in a timely and professional manner, you can turn a negative into a positive and move forward.


posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 10:56 AM