It’s been said a million times already. The digital revolution has changed how business is done and the businesses that haven’t adapted have folded in a hurry. In a general sense, the online media has brought more attention to quality. Customers are no longer powerless and have the option of making their feelings known to not only the company but also the world. When those feelings are positive, there’s no better form of marketing for a business but when they turn nasty, entrepreneurs suffer. Negative online reviews have a way of hitting the business where it hurts the most – sales.
What’s worse is that businesses no longer have control over negative online reviews. Initially, businesses had the option of keeping only negative reviews since there weren’t any third party websites for the same. However, now there are third party websites that hold reviews of all types of businesses with integrity. Effectively, if a business displeases its customers, then the incident is in the public domains for everyone, including the business’s prospects, to see. However, while receiving bad online reviews can be disheartening, there are ways of handling them.
Why Should You Bother With Negative Online Reviews?
So, there are ways to handle online negative reviews but at what cost? Businesses always have the evaluate returns on a particular task, assignment, or project. Unless the returns are good enough, they don’t proceed with the task. The question then is will handling negative online reviews be worth your while? The answer is a resounding yes.
Online reviews have become a major part of how customer retention. They also play a role in brand perception which is indirectly related to customer acquisition. If you handle bad online reviews right, then you get to keep those negative reviewers and probably their associated customers. Moreover, if prospective customers see you handling these poor online reviews responsibly, they’ll be more inclined to do business with you.
It is because of this that online review management is a major part of the modern day business marketing strategy. In fact, most businesses have a system in place to handle negative online reviews. If you want to incorporate one too, here’s a step by step procedure.
Step 1: Research the Actual Cause of the Negative Review
There could be any number of reasons behind why customers post negative online reviews. However, what you should know is that if a customer has taken the pain to go online and post a negative review, then it is likely that they’re incredibly displeased with your business. In essence, what this should show you is that the problem is serious and worth investigating.
If you research the actual cause behind poor online reviews, then you’ll be better prepared to deal with those reviewers. The more important side, though, is that researching online negative reviews will help you pinpoint operational flaws and fix them. Effectively, by researching negative reviews online, you can actually improve your service or product.
Step 2: Respond To the Review Publicly and Own the Mistake
You should make it a point to research the actual cause behind all online reviews that are negative. But, you don’t have to respond to all of them. For example, many customers have realised the importance of reviews to businesses and started trying to blackmail them into giving free things by threatening negative reviews. The only counter to these negative tactics from entitled customers is to ignore their reviews.
Apart from these, you may even see some reviews that are only marginally negative and not worth all that effort. When it comes to reviews that require responding, there are not many things you can do. First and foremost, you have to ensure that you’re following the rules set by the third party website so that you don’t get barred from responding to those negative reviews.
Once you see the review, you’ll immediately be able to tell whether it is a result of a misunderstanding or a genuine concern with the products and services being offered. In such scenarios, all you can do is try to clear the picture up. The other type of negative reviews is more serious and genuine. With them, either your service wasn’t up to the mark or your product was flawed. You can’t do much with these types of negative online reviews except for owning up to your mistake, apologise, and make sure that it all sounds sincere.
Step 3: Offer Something to Turn Negative into Positive
Typically, if the reviewer is genuine and reasonable, then you can actually convince them to overturn their review. However, they have to see you as genuine for that to happen. More importantly, you have to give them incentives to do so without phrasing it that way. The trick is to own the mistake and apologise but while apologising convey that you want to make up to the reviewer by offering something.
That “something” could be anything from a free gift to a decent discount on the next order. Basically, the reparation offer should be equivalent to how severe the gaffe from your business was. While offering something as a token of your “sincere apology” or even after it, you can ask the reviewer to kindly change their reviews as it affects your business’s branding efforts adversely.
More often than not, you’ll see one-star reviews turning into four or even five-star reviews. In fact, it is even possible that your efforts result in the reviewer becoming a returning customer of your business for life.
Step 4: Have the Reviews Removed
Above, we gave an example of negative online reviews being used as a threat by unscrupulous customers. There’s no decent way through which you can deal with such reviews since they were put there with the purpose of getting something for free. However, if you have proof of the threat, then you have an option for dealing with them.
With that proof, you can approach the third party website where the bad online reviews have been placed and ask them to remove them. It’s a simple enough process for web administrators and something they’ll be willing to do if the reason is justified. Needless to say, if the reviews are on your own website, you can always delete them yourself.
Step 5: Ask All Your Customers to Review You Positively
There is no better marketing strategy than to ask all your customers to review your product, service, or even business. You can do this in various ways. You can send emails after the product or service is delivered. You can even do the asking on a personal level to have more of an effect. It doesn’t matter how you do it, so long as you do it.
If you can manage to get reviews from the majority of your customers, poor online reviews will become less impactful. For example, imagine having 1,000 customer reviews of three to five stars. Even if the 1,001st review turns out to be one star, it will not have as much power as a one-star review in a total of five reviews. The more positive online reviews you get, the less effective negative online reviews will be.