How To Deal With Negative Online Comments And Reviews

2nd March 2018

How To Deal With Negative Online Comments And Reviews

Whatever service your business provides or product it sells, at some point you are going to upset someone. As Ray Charles once wisely observed, “Not everyone’s gonna like you.”

Most businesses have a website, and many engage with customers through Facebook, Twitter and Google+. So someone who thinks they have had poor service, or bought a poor product, can easily post their views online for other customers and clients to see. But what should you do about negative comments?
 
Before getting to that, it’s worth stressing the importance of keeping track of your online reputation. It’s easy to monitor online conversations about you, with (free) media tools such as Google Alerts, Hootsuite, MonitorThis and SocialMention. Choose keywords to keep an eye on: as well as your business name and website, you could monitor the services you provide, the names of directors or senior staff, competitors, and even common expressions (e.g. “[business name] was rubbish”). Set alerts so that you are notified when they crop up, and can make a prompt response if required.
 
If you do get a bad review or comment, the key thing is to get involved, and not ignore it and hope no-one sees it.

  • Take control of the situation, and be proactive. Respond as soon as possible: 24 hours is a lifetime in social media. Be quick and positive – but not hasty: do not lose your cool and dash off a reply in the heat of the moment. Take a little time to collect your thoughts.
  • If the comment or complaint is justified, be open and honest: admit there was a problem. Don’t get drawn into argument or justification. Treat the reviewer as you would any dissatisfied customer who calls you on the phone: with courtesy, empathy and a genuine commitment to make things right. Being defensive will not help.
  • Try to get the conversation out of the public domain. Offer to phone or meet the person who has commented or complained.
  • It’s easy to say sorry. Even if you did not do whatever made the customer upset, you can still be sorry for the way your customer feels.
  • Swamp the bad with the good. While it’s human nature to remember the poor reviews or personal attacks, you will likely have far more positive testimonials. Collect and promote all the good reviews and glowing comments from other clients and customers.

 
If you have a reputation for responding to online comments, and standing up to “keyboard warriors” to protect your brand and reputation, then others will be unlikely to do the same.
 
Should you try to get a bad review removed? While this is a natural reaction, the answer is: probably not. It is notoriously difficult to get a review or comment removed from Google+, Trip Advisor or Facebook. Posting content regularly on your social media profiles is the best way to maintain a positive online presence. Your customers (and online followers) will remain engaged and be reminded that you can be trusted. Being involved in online conversations about your industry is a good way of getting your name out there in a positive light.
 
Everyone has the right to disagree – what’s troubling is a personal attack. Don’t take these comments to heart. It can be difficult if someone names individual staff, or gives non-constructive feedback. But such comments say more about the reviewer than your business. Let’s face it, they are probably customers you would prefer not to have anyway.

Notes

For more information about protecting your reputation, click here