We often have clients reach out for guidance on managing negative comments they receive online about their business or staff. Below is a simple guide we use for our own companies:
Investigate the Reviewer
Look up the profile of the person leaving the negative comment on Facebook & Google, then determine how they have reviewed other companies by clicking on their reviews.
By looking at their engagement you can determine if they:
- Tend to be positive in their past reviews, in which case we suggest you take the negative review seriously. If these sort of reviewers want to engage you in positive or neutral dialogue you should do so.
- They consistently post critical commentary on other reviews, in which case you still want to reply, just know these kinds of reviewers tend to want to engage you in negative dialogue. DO NOT do this!
How to Give Feedback?
Even when dealing with apparent negativity, always assume you have misunderstood their intent. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt and respond with positive comments.
ALWAYS respond to reviews and always thank the reviewer. One of the common mistakes businesses make is writing long responses to bad reviews and short ones for good reviews. This will almost certainly bring your bad reviews to the top of search results. You should do the exact opposite.
When to Stop the Conversation?
At times, you’ll encounter clients that want to “be heard” and they often will engage you via your review response. DO NOT have a negative online dialogue with a client.
Admit Your Shortcomings
Oftentimes we see business owners get defensive when someone writes a less than desirable review. While we understand this reaction, it will lead nowhere if you voice it online. Remember perception is reality when it comes to customers. People write poor reviews in most cases because an employee did not address their concerns while they were engaged in business with your company.
The fastest way to de-escalate these situations is to apologize and ask what you can do to satisfy them. Do not offer anything until the customer answers your request for a remedy. Oftentimes they just want the owner or manager to acknowledge them.