Whether we want to admit it or not, what other people think about us does matter – especially in the business world. Positive reviews are still a leading cause for new business transactions. Consumers are trusting online reviews more than ever. In a recent study, Qualtrics found that 91% of 18-34 year olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (Qualtrics, 2021). In the same study, it was found that four out of five consumers changed their mind about a purchase because of negative reviews online (Qualtrics, 2021). Knowing this, it is crucial to understand what to do when your business’s reputation is called into question.
Here’s a list of our top tips for how to respond to negative online reviews and preserve your reputation.
The first (and most obvious) step to reputation management is to maintain constant quality checks. This allows you to prevent any issues before they arise. Recommended best practice is to be quality checking your products and services, regardless of your reputation. If your product and services remain in perfect condition, so should your reputation.
That being said, even if your product is perfect, negative reviews can pop up. Whether the review is deserved or unfair, you have to put your ego aside and fall on your sword for the sake of the organization. The instinct to be defensive and discredit the reviewer is natural – but it’s also unhelpful. Responding to negative reviews is an artform in and of itself. You have to be transparent and forthcoming with what happened while appropriately solving the problem. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to responding to reviews since every customer is different. The most important element of a great response is uncovering what the customer needs and supplying that.
Online reviews are public, for all of your customers to see, and your response should also be public. Customers are more forgiving when they see that you have taken the time to respond to the review and have tried to resolve the situation. Keeping it short and sweet is key here. Although it is tempting to explain the details that led to the situation that the customer is upset about, ultimately they only care about how you are going to solve their issue. Less is more. Apologizing, acknowledging the problem and solving that problem is all you need to do for most customers.
Naturally, some customer demands will not be feasible. This happens to everyone sometimes, but it does not have to be a kiss of death. The best thing to do is bring the conversation offline by providing the contact information of a specific customer representative. This prevents the situation from getting out of hand online and allows the customer representative to gather more information about what the customer needs.
They say it is the golden rule for a reason. This may seem obvious, but we have seen it one too many times where a company responds to a review in a way that minimizes or mocks the reviewer. Although such responses can be funny, they’re probably best kept in the drafts folder. If a customer has gone through all of the effort to write a review, they expect a response that helps to solve the issue – not make it worse. Consumers want to know that your company has listened to their concerns and is willing to come up with a solution.
Ask for help.
In the digital world we live in, having positive online reviews is critical to success. These tips are not universal because every customer and interaction is unique. If you find yourself struggling with some bad reviews, please reach out to us and we might be able to help you out.