For owners of multinational companies, a handful of negative reviews is nothing to worry about. However, the same cannot be said for small business owners and entrepreneurs. When it comes to small- and medium-sized businesses, each bad review can potentially affect the reputation and sales of the brand.
Having the bad testimonial put down or removed may not always be possible, but there are ways to mitigate the damage.
Here are a few tips for performing effective online reputation management.
1. Respond quickly but rationally
Sending a response shows your customers how much you value their opinions. If you do it correctly, the customer you have erred against might give you another opportunity to make up for the mistake your business committed. The dissatisfied individual might decide to have their online report removed or leave you with a more positive one instead.
A scathing review can make you defensive or react negatively. Take some time to collect your thoughts. The objective is to prevent yourself from sending an emotional response and starting an argument with the customer. Address your customer’s concerns in a calm and neutral tone. Even if you are unable to fully give them what they want, acknowledging their concerns and showing your willingness to rectify the situation can go a long way.
2. Devise a communication strategy
Should you contact your customer online or offline? On one hand, sending a response publicly shows people how your business deals with negative situations. It provides evidence for both your current and potential customers that your business cares for its customers.
However, how much you respond and the way you respond can unwittingly add more fuel to the fire. Because it is online, other people are free to scrutinize your response. You will need to be extra careful when crafting and delivering your responses.
With these in mind, it is not surprising to find entrepreneurs who prefer to take the conversation offline. Sending the customer an email or calling them allows you to connect with the customer and learn more about the situation in a private way.
It is important to note that people can sound different depending on the method of communication you choose to use. Some people sound angry online but sound pleasant on the phone. There are also people who might start screaming at you once they know who you are. Be prepared either way.
There are also entrepreneurs who utilize both methods. They may leave a message online that they are handling the situation, but continue the conversation offline.
Regardless of the method, remember that the aim is to find a resolution that both sides can accept. Once you reach an amicable settlement, politely ask them to update their review online. This will let potential customers know that you have handled the situation.
3. Look for a pattern
There may be an observable pattern with the complaints that you receive. At times, the review may be as simple as receiving comments indicating people were Disappointed or had a bad experience.
Once you get a better idea of what the nature of the complaints are, try to see if there are commonalities. Find out what product or service is causing the issue. It could be the way your items are being shipped, or the fact that the colors look different from what they saw online. Perhaps it’s an issue with an employee handling the customer’s orders.
Whatever the case may be, you need to find solutions for the problem. If it’s a customer service issue, what options do you have to improve the quality? Do you need to hire more people, spend more on training, find a way to discipline the employee, or fire the individual?
4. Keep your eyes and ears peeled online
It is difficult to know everything that goes on online at all times. However, there are tools that can inform you what people think of your brand and where they are leaving their complaints. Google Alerts and Sprout Social are examples of tools that can monitor the Internet. By setting up an account on these types of sites, alerts can be sent to your email address. These tools will let you know if people are mentioning your brand online.
Once you receive an alert, you can go to that website and learn more about that customer’s comment. If it is a review site, you can learn how the site works and find out how you can handle the complaint or contact the individual who made it.
Bad reviews do not spell the end of your business. You can expect to receive a few of them over the years. Complaints are inevitable, but what you do with them can change the way your customers see your business. Learn from the negative feedback you have received. Use them as opportunities where you can make the business better. If you need more advice on how to run your business, contact us today for more tips.