Negative Online Reviews: What To Do About Them, And How To Prevent Them
I was recently YouTubing old commercials (I was feeling a little nostalgic) and saw a shampoo commercial by Faberge. The product touted such great results that the spot starts with the spokesperson saying, “I told two friends about Faberge organic shampoo. And they told two friends….and so on…and so on…” as the image multiplies — denoting word-of-mouth accolades and what amounted to ‘viral’ marketing back in the day.
It got me thinking about how easily word can spread in today’s digital landscape — both the positive and the negative — compared to the days of Faberge Organic Shampoo. Back in the day, it required a lot of work on the part of a disgruntled customer to spread bad “reviews” about a product or service. They had to consciously (and verbally) mention it to anyone they spoke with. It was an effort. And, while it was still bad news for the brand, it was nothing compared to the damage that can be done in today’s world of Google and social media. Today, all it takes is a few angrily typed sentences, a click, and the negative sentiment is shared with thousands – even millions – of people.
So, as a business owner, what are the present-day reasons you should be on top of preventing or mitigating negative online reviews? What are the most common types of negative reviews? How do you stop them? And, mostly importantly, how do you handle them in the event you do get a negative review?
But, But … We Never Had A Chance!
Think about the last time you had a need for a product or service. Did you research it online beforehand? Probably. In fact, you may have even performed the entire transaction online without ever talking to a human. Why is this important? Because your customers are better informed than any other time in consumer history. They’ll do most of their homework on the ol’ laptop before they ever contemplate talking to a salesperson or representative.
When customers research a company, they don’t just look at their website, they also peruse their social media pages. In fact, social media advertising is exploding, and it’s likely that’s how they heard about your business in the first place. As a customer, if you’re making an assessment about whether to take the next step in purchasing, or even further investigation of a product of service, you’re going to look at the reviews from other customers.
Ever buy anything on Amazon? Their online reviews are front and center, and many consumers use these review ratings to make buying decisions. Without ever talking to the maker or seller of the product. Yup, you never had a chance. If you have negative reviews, prospects could pass you up in favor of a competitor (who’s just a click away, by the way).
Three Most Common Types of Negative Reviews
Negative reviews can pop up for several reasons. Sometimes, you’ll find reviews that are outright fake. There really isn’t a whole lot you can do but report the review.
A second, and more common type of negative review, comes from a customer (or even prospect) who had a bad experience at your place of business. This happens for a multitude of reasons, but for whatever the reason, the customer wasn’t happy and decided to trumpet their displeasure to the world.
Finally, you might see a negative review posted from a disgruntled ex-employee. These tend to get posted soon after the employee was let go, and focus on more intimate, internal company details and information. This type of review can often be removed due to violation of the social media platform’s Terms of Service.
How Do I Handle Bad Reviews?
1. The first recommendation would be to engage the unhappy customer by phone. There can be an urge to confront them directly by replying to their review. This can become a war of words quite quickly, further damaging your company’s reputation. It’s also much easier to make a meaningful connection with them by phone than it is online.
2. When you do connect with them, make sure you are as polite as possible, even if they’re wrong or their complaint is unfounded (this is are, but does happen). Anger only leads to more anger and, in today’s world, it could soon mean other bad reviews on multiple review sites, worsening your problem.
3. Let them know you understand their point of view and where they’re coming from. Uncover what needs may not have been met in their initial experience, and offer to do something that makes them feel more valued.
Following these three simple steps can help prevent further negative online sentiment. It’s sad to say, but if disgruntled customers aren’t assuaged quickly, they can recruit friends to post fake negative reviews and there isn’t a whole you can do about it.
How Do I Prevent Negative Reviews In The First Place!
The best strategy is, of course, to prevent negative reviews from appearing online in the first place. While this is virtually impossible, you can dramatically reduce the risk by integrating a digital reputation manager and customer engagement tool to alert you to negative customer experiences before they become a problem.
The best platform available is pulseM from Diversity Technology, a new software that not only allows you to head off negative customer sentiment before it hits the Internet, but also gathers deep, rich, meaningful customer feedback while allowing you to hold your employees more accountable for the level of service they offer to begin with.
Upon completion of the customer experience, pulseM delivers a brief, three-question survey directly to a customer’s mobile phone via SMS/text. If the feedback is negative, a call is routed to a designated employee within your business who can speak with the customer and immediately address the problem.
About pulseM Online
pulseM is a revolutionary technology that offers effortless and natural customer engagement, allowing you to take the pulse of your customer. Increase positive social media reviews, keep negative reviews from hitting the internet, increase employee accountability, and gather deep, rich customer sentiment – all with one simple platform. For more information visit www.pulseMonline.com
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