Turn Negative Online Reviews into Positives

Consumers today tend to do their research before making a big purchase or using a service for the first time. And with so many online review sites like Yelp, Google Places, TripAdvisor and the Better Business Bureau, it’s easier than ever for consumers to make an educated and informed purchase and share their experience with the public.

Because of its reach and longevity online, positive reviews add immeasurable value to your business. Vice versa, a history of negative reviews without any reaction or response from your business will factor into declining sales and poor brand reputation. As a small business or a large company, it’s critical to keep an eye on what people are saying about your offerings online and be strategic in how you handle them.

Not every single customer will be pleased 100% of the time. Things happen! (whether they were in your control or not). What matters is what you do with these reviews to turn a negative into a positive not only for that customer, but also for anyone else looking into your business.

Here are our top tips to turn around negative reviews and even make them work in your favor:

1. Know where the conversations are taking place.

Not all reviews can be found on sites like Yelp. Some customers also take to social media to share their satisfaction with a service/product, or to vent their frustrations. You have to be aware of where these conversations are taking place in order to have the opportunity to make amends or post a productive response.

Consumers want to be heard. Oftentimes it’s best to acknowledge the issues, apologize, and thank them for their business, patience, understanding, etc. instead of ignoring the conversation. It’s a chance to let the consumer know they’ve been heard, they’re important, and you do sincerely apologize for the issue at hand. Not all reviews deserve a response, such as reviews that use foul language. It’s best to use your better judgment when addressing consumers online, where other consumers and prospects will see how you’ve addressed a situation.

To simplify the task of watching your social media sites and others across the web, some companies use social listening services to assist with online reputation management. These platforms alert the company of negative reviews that require a bit more attention.

2. Don’t let negative reviews get the best of you.

For many business owners, their company is their pride and joy. You’ve worked hard to make it everything it is today, so how can we expect someone to not get his or her ego a bit bruised from receiving a bad review? Depending on the circumstances, you may choose to respond privately or publicly.

Either way, before saying something you’ll regret in the heat of the moment, try to see things from the consumer’s point of view; try to empathize with them. They might actually have a point that can help to better your business in the future. Reviewers can bring deficits to your attention.

Remember to be professional in your response, avoiding sarcasm or passive-aggressive language. It’s easy for online conversations to be misconstrued, due to the lack of tone or facial expression. And because the reviewer is already on edge, they may question the sincerity of your response. In cases like these, it may be best to get a second opinion before publishing.

3. Remind them of the positives.

Just because there was a negative review doesn’t mean that your company has lost all credibility. Remind the reviewer of why your business is successful. Remind them that your business prides itself on the freshness of the ingredients you use, or your one-of-a-kind service.

For example, acknowledge that the service they received wasn’t up to your standards and you are doing everything you can to rectify the situation in the future. Thank them for their service and let them know that you hope to have an opportunity to provide them with the excellence your company is known for. This way the customer knows that you’re not turning a blind eye and are taking preventative measures for the future.

4. Try to change the venue of the conversation.

Sometimes it’s best to give a customer the opportunity to share more information about their negative review in a less public setting. Take a lesson from big brands and provide reviewers on social networks or review sites an email address, alternate phone number, or landing page where they can give you the details of the situation without it being so public.

Be mindful of the approach you use when doing so. You don’t want to look like you’re only trying to quiet the reviewer. It’s best to acknowledge the issue on social, apologize, and provide the customer with contact information they can use to provide more details and help your company make amends. This shows the customer that you are, in fact, concerned – and want to resolve the situation.