Did your business just get a lousy review on Google or Facebook? Did you just get dinged with a one star review? What exactly can you do about it anyway?
Negative reviews have to be handled with restraint and professionalism. Especially if your company is at fault, even in the tiniest way.
If your company is not at fault, that’s a different scenario. Let’s handle that reputation management case first.
Let’s say someone came into your shop, or did business with your company somehow, and for all intents and purposes, nothing at all went awry. However, the next thing you see is a negative review on Google or Facebook that leaves you shaking your head in total disbelief.
Nine times out of ten, someone who does that is a troll. Because, nine times out of ten, they will say negative nasties about your store, business or product, and in the next line, they will be comparing you to another business for which they have the highest praise. What are they playing at anyway?
The troll is simply using your business as a way to promote someone else’s business. Game over. Trolldom.
Your knee jerk reaction is to fire back with a sharp, witty reply that’s actually going to make you look negative and sarcastic, and your next knee jerk reaction is to get 15 of your family, friends, and best customers to give you amazing, stellar reviews.
What have you just done?
You’ve just showed the entire world, including potential customers………. that you are:
A) enabling the troll’s behavior by acknowledging them
B) that you are exhibiting needless defensive behavior over a baseless claim.
C) Instead of being reactive, be proactive.
Reply to the troll that you are sorry to hear (way different than being sorry) that they feel they had a less than wonderful experience with your business (way different than they actually had a bad experience) and invite them to revisit your business any time they like. This way, you have not enabled their bad behavior, you’ve put the ball back in their court, and you didn’t waste a whole lot of time on them. Instead, a simple, professional two liner from you and you get back to running your business. Troll Game Over.
Now. Second scenario. What if your company is actually at fault, and somehow did drop the ball, however inadvertently, your reputation management issue now requires you to apologize and do some mild groveling.
It happens, Buttercup. Get it done and get on with good customer relations.
First of all your reply must be again with restraint and professionalism. You cannot show anger, sarcasm, or negativity. The customer is NOT always right. But when your company has indeed dropped the ball, that changes the universal shift just a wee bit.
A) First, apologize nicely, letting them know that you are truly sorry for the inconvenience / bad experience / issue at hand.
B) Admit to whatever part of being wrong that you need to.
C) Do NOT make excuses. Yes, something slipped through the cracks. We all know it happens, stuff happens. Admit to it.
D) Offer nicely to make amends. If that means giving them a free product, a discount, a mea culpa of some sort, then do it.
E) Bottom line. Address the issue, admit the fault, make the goodwill overture. Keep it simple, show them you care, and be professional. No need to go overboard and sell off your firstborn.
End result. They either accept your stance, and you’ve retained the customer, or, they do not, and you will both part ways.
How do you end up looking? Quite good. You’ve just showed the world that you can handle the sticky situation with class and finesse, and people will be much more willing to do business with you.
Why? You just successfully turned negative publicity into positive publicity for your business without degrading the incident into something ugly with he said, she said overtones.