Every business owner wants to see glowing online reviews and comments about their organization. It’s natural for us to only want the positives pointed out in public. When negative online reviews happen, your first reaction is to retaliate, blame, and/or deny they exist. But what if you started looking at your negative online reviews with as much enthusiasm as the positive reviews?
I know all too well what it’s like to get negative reviews. I used to manage big car dealerships and it was never easy. When somebody is calling your baby ugly, your immediate reaction is to retaliate. We consistently delivered a positive customer experience but you can’t please everyone all the time.
In my recent online reputation management workshops with car dealers across the US, many attendees tell me it’s difficult to navigate the online space and often times, they feel like they have no control whatsoever over what’s being said.
Feeling like you have no control can result in negative and harmful reactions. Some of the common reactions to negative online reviews and negative feedback I witness:
- Ignore negative reviews
- Blame customers
- Comments like “social media is a scourge.”
Yes, it’s human to react this way but realistically speaking, you don’t have to when you have a good system in place to monitor, respond and be proactive about getting your happy, loyal customers’ feedback heard online.
Even when someone makes something up (which happens) or someone even threatens you for outrageous discounts by saying they’ll write a bad review, you can stand solid in your position. Genuine confidence in yourself, your brand, your employees and your online reputation management system defies any threats. Let them go ahead – you have many more happy, contented customers who speak the truth.
It’s simple. You have a finite amount of energy. You can focus on the problem or you can focus on the solution. I find that working with the system rather than against it gives me a better chance to rise above my competition.
Fact: the Internet isn’t fair.
Fact: You can exert some control over what’s being said about you with a solid system.
Fact: It’s dangerous to do nothing.
3 ways negative online reviews have a positive effect on your business
Positive #1: You get to hear what customers think about your business in real time.
We used to pay companies big bucks to create and distribute customer surveys to obtain feedback about customer experience (some still do!). But today, you can find out immediately what customers think about your business from your online profiles and that’s very valuable.
According to the Edelman Trust Barometer Survey, “A person like yourself” and “Regular employees” are considered more trustworthy than the CEO. When customers share their genuine opinions online, future customers listen. Negative or positive, you get a chance to address things quickly and respond appropriately.
Positive #2: You are served up a learning opportunity for your staff.
Often just by reading a negative review, you can tell where the breakdown happened in the daily operation. It could have been a leadership fail, lack of communication, managerial mishap or someone new on the job. Every review you receive is a valuable learning opportunity.
Positive #3: Future customers get to witness how you handle negative customer experiences.
Human errors happen and buyers know that. They’re spending many hours researching their next purchase and developing their expectations of the experience they’ll receive from you. A rectified issue that began as a negative review is a great way to instill positive expectations in your future customers.
Respond to every review. With negative reviews, once an issue is remedied, your response should reflect the circumstances of the resolution. Even if you’ve taken the issue offline, go back in and reply so that future customers can witness how you handled it. They’ll realize then that if an issue arose with them, they can feel comfortable knowing you take your customers’ issue seriously and work to resolve them.