A How-To for Addressing Negativity
It seems that nothing terrifies business owners quite like receiving a notification of a new review for his or her company — but reviews should be celebrated, not feared. Reviews are a powerful tool for businesses looking to generate leads (read: every business in existence). That said, much like with social media, where there is potential for good there is equal potential for bad. In light of this fact, business owners must devise a strategy for handling these situations when they arise. For those who recognize that they may need a bit of help in this area, it is advisable to seek out the help of a South Florida advertising agency.
Here are five things business owners should keep in mind when crafting a strategy for responding to negative feedback online.
1. Be Quick
Responding to any review promptly is important, whether it is a negative or a positive one. How quickly the commenter will expect a response will ultimately depend on the platform he or she is using. If the negative feedback is made on social media, responding within 24 hours is ideal. For sites like Yelp and Google, most users expect a response within a day or two. Social monitoring tools like Google Alerts and Social Mention are a great way for companies to keep up with what people are saying online.
2. Practice Transparency
If a mistake was made that affected the reviewer’s experience with a company, it hurts the business more if the owner fails to own up to it when replying. Whether the issue is simply a misunderstanding or a valid complaint, every response should begin with an apology. This does not mean that the owner is admitting fault, but simply shows that he understands that the reviewer was unhappy with his/her experience. If the review seems to be an inaccurate account of the situation, or even wrongly attributed to the business, it is important that the individual replying make note of this. That said, is also vital for companies to avoid getting defensive, so one should stick to the facts and be polite when responding to even the most negative of reviews.
3. Focus on the Positive
When addressing negative feedback, highlighting the favorable aspects of the experience can be an effective tactic for turning the situation around. For instance, if the customer pointed out an aspect of the service that he/she did like, the response should address that specifically. Additionally, the owner can use this opportunity to reference a positive company policy or practice that may have accounted for the problem, or which would prevent it in the future. For instance, if a longer than usual wait time for food at a local restaurant can be attributed to the establishment’s dedication to ensuring high food quality, this connection should be detailed in the owner’s reply.
4. Move the Conversation
Once the business owner has offered his/her side of the story and made a public apology, any remaining concerns should be taken offline. The easiest way to accomplish this is for the owner to close out the response with a statement encouraging the reviewer to call him or her directly. Ideally, the business will be able to resolve the issue privately, ultimately securing a retraction of the poor review and further patronage from the previously unsatisfied customer.
5. Make it Right
The most important thing a company can do when it comes to addressing negative reviews is of course to rectify the issue. While a bad experience can’t be undone, there are steps an owner can take to right the wrong. For instance, one might choose to offer a discount to ensure the customer returns in spite of the less than stellar incident. Businesses are also encouraged to use negativity to make positive changes within the company whenever applicable. One of the best takeaways from any credible negative review is the opportunity to improve future customer/client experiences.
If you need help with your online reputation management, our South Florida advertising agency is just a call away. Our PR and digital experts can ensure your business is yielding any negativity online the right way, and thus not suffering from it.