How to Handle Negative Reviews

Brownbook’s Dave Ingram pens a column at SEL on how to deal with negative reviews. Here are his top tips:

  1. Use Google alerts to listen for mentions of your company or products, good or bad. You can join the conversation to magnify the good and address the bad.
  2. Where you find negativity, first establish a neutral frame of mind, and don’t immediately bite. You can’t deal with the problem in knee-jerk mode.
  3. If you can identify the customer, see if you can resolve the issue offline, then ask them to update their review. You’ll find when you satisfy a previously unhappy customer you’ll be creating one of your strongest advocates.
  4. If the review is truly unjustified, you may wish to respond publicly to the review to provide some balance to the discussion – but use this tactic with care as it can soon turn into a fight, and nothing is less appealing than two people airing their differences in public. If you do this, I recommend starting with a phrase like “dear x, thanks for your feedback and I am sorry to hear you’re unhappy, let me see if I can help…” and then go on to unemotionally address the issue, but don’t just disagree with their view. Here’s an example of a business using this exact tactic to handle one bad review in their otherwise excellent reviews. It leads me to trust the supplier more when communication is as open as this: Aerial Tec.
  5. If the review is nasty, downright personal, or in some way illegal then you might need to take action. Check the policies of the website where the review appears to find out how best to contact and notify them. Don’t just fire off an email—there may be information they need to identify the review in question and their policy will let you know the best (and quickest) way to get any issue resolved.
  6. Do nothing. That’s right, you may decide to do nothing—most of us know we don’t get it right all of the time. This can be hard to do, because we feel our pride is hurt and we want to defend it, but sometimes attempts to fight back simply fuel the fire and can turn a small blip into a big problem.
  7. Get some good reviews. In my opinion this is the best way to balance the picture and swing it in your favor. Ask your good customers to give you great reviews. A word of warning if you’re thinking of faking it by writing your own—don’t. Such tactics are often obvious or at least are quickly discovered.

More at SEL.

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6 Responses to “How to Handle Negative Reviews”

  1. Mr. Google Alerts Says:

    “Get some good reviews.” You saved the most important point for last. What matters is findability. Since most users will stop after the first page of results, or at most the second, you only have 10-20 results to worry about. You can’t “get rid” of negative reviews, but you can drive them past the second page, and hence eliminate them as far as most users are concerned. I like to call this Reputation Optimization, because it applies Search Engine Optimization thinking to reputation management. I’ve written more about this on my blog, if you want to read further:

    http://www.alertrank.com/mrgooglealerts/2009/05/03/google-owns-your-reputation/

  2. Tom Troughton Says:

    Good points for us all to remember. As the old saying goes, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.” Therefore, if you are gettting some negative feedback from people, at least you are big enough so that you are getting noticed. Congratulations!

  3. Reputation Management and Local Name Changes » Understanding Google Maps & Local Search Says:

    [...] management in the Local arena that focuses on tracking internet wide mentions of your company and dealing with negative reviews. As Miriam Ellis points out, communication with the unhappy party can go a long way towards [...]

  4. Reputation Management and Local Name Changes | rapid-DEV.net Says:

    [...] management in the Local arena that focuses on tracking internet wide mentions of your company and dealing with negative reviews. As Miriam Ellis points out, communication with the unhappy party can go a long way towards [...]

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