How to Handle Negative Online Reviews Effectively

Every business or brand that interacts with the public has a variety of potential risks and challenges to constantly consider. In particular, customer or client sentiment is a powerful tool whether it be positive or negative: through a combination of word of mouth and reviews, the impressions of countless others can be shaped.

Online reviews in particular are a potent dynamic for brands of all shapes and sizes. While dozens of positive reviews can help reinforce your digital presence and persuade others sufficiently, even a single negative review can draw disproportionate consideration from prospective clientele.

How you handle the presence of any negative online reviews can be just as influential as the reviews themselves. As such, let’s review how you should handle these reviews when they appear.

Be Quick

With every minute that passes with a negative online review visible, more people potentially become persuaded by the reviewer’s side of the story. This can ultimately cost a brand or business valuable engagement, with some customers even seeing a lack of engagement from the brand as a sign of disrespect or a tacit admission of guilt.

This is why keeping close tabs on any and all review platforms is crucial. Whenever someone begins pinging your website or business with negative reviews, responding as quickly as possible will minimize the time that such a review stands uncontested in the digital arena. Once you have responded, anybody who reads the review in question will also be able to hear your side of the story, see who is being reasonable, and ultimately have their concerns assuaged.

Take Responsibility (When Relevant)

There are many situations where you can honestly say mistakes were made and decisions led to the inevitable presence of a negative review. In these situations, it is vital that you own up to this and apologize for the situation.

Most prospective customers understand that there are unruly and unreasonable customers in the world who will complain about anything – or even outright make stuff up – but a business that denies responsibility in every case where there’s a negative review will leave a nasty impression on people.

As such, admit your mistakes when it is accurate and relevant, apologize and take responsibility to ensure it does not happen again.

Incorporate Personal Details

Being able to connect with the reviewer is an important step in addressing their concerns and responding properly. To do so, incorporating personal details is a must: not only should you mention personal tidbits such as their name and overall struggle with your company, but include a couple of personal tidbits of your own.

Using names, recalling specific situations that help reviewers and third-parties realize you remember the order or experience, and showing sympathy can all help defuse tense negative situations. In some cases, it may even ultimately convince a rational negative reviewer to take their review down if and once the situation can be solved.

Every time someone is pinging your website or websites that offer reviews, negative instances can stand out like a sore thumb. For this reason, addressing them as soon as possible, connecting with the reviewer personally and taking responsibility are all critical components of responding effectively to a negative review.

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