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Monday, 2 August 2010

8 Steps To Successfully Dealing with Negative Online Reviews

Two coincidental events lead me recently to think about handling negative online comments. Firstly, there was a reference to it in a recent episode of the "Hotel Inspector"; and secondly one of my clients had a run in with a customer who subsequently orchestrated a campaign of negative comments across a wide array of  review sites. 

The risk of negative reviews is highest in retail businesses where customers can get very angry about perceived poor or downright bad service. It is often these businesses who are least able to effectively combat such publicity. So What should you do.

Well obviously the first thing is to monitor the web to see what reviews if any have been posted about you. Once you've identified relevant review sites bookmark them and review them every week. Now as the saying goes "you can't please all the people all the time" so you will at some point get some negative feedback- whether its justified or not. 

Your second action is to get some reviews on to those sites, so ask your friends and best customers if they could write a few words about why they like your business. This pre-emptive action will also naturally act as a counterbalance to any negative comments. 

When you finally get some negative feedback its vital that you "Stay Calm". I know if you're like me you take any criticism of the business personally but getting emotional and either slagging off the complainant or the review site in general will only make things worse. Certainly don't do what my client did and make direct contact concerning the complaint as far from calming things down it added fuel to the fire!

Don't expect help from the review site. They don't know who's telling the trust and frankly they don't care. There view is the more activity and controversy on their site the more traffic they'll get and the more advertising revenue they'll obtain. Shocking isn't it they're doing it to make money.

So how do you respond? 

1. Don't respond immediately. If you can copy the complaint into a word file for consideration later. 

2. Give yourself 24 hrs to reply, view at their complaints and comments as many times as you can but don't start to respond until you stop getting emotional when you read it.

3. Stopped getting emotional? Yes? Its only at this point you should consider responding as by this point you'll be able to view the review objectively and reply in the same manner. 

4. Draft your response and review it properly to make sure it addresses their concerns and also that it can't be mis-construed.

5. Get someone else to review it. Only ask a member of staff if you are confident that they will be strong enough criticise your response if they don't think its appropriate. Otherwise ask someone not connected with your business.

6 . Only now its been reviewed should you submit your response

7. Since review sites are set up like blogs, that is with the latest response first, try to get some of your friends to add positive comments to counter balance the negative reviews.

8. Learn from the experience

Oh and 9. rinse and repeat if and when it happens again.

Exigent Consulting specialises in providing Business Turnaround, Sales, Marketing and Mentoring to the Small and Medium Business. We help Business Owners improve the profit performance of their business.

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