Positive Negative: What to Do When Your Company Gets Negative Online Comments

Excerpted from a post at www.smallbiztrends.com.

You want to make sure that you’re encouraging your customers to leave reviews, that you know what’s being said about you and that you’re active about managing them. But not all reviews are created equal. And not every bad review warrants a response or even an acknowledgment. How do you know the difference?

When Should You Respond?

You really did screw up: Ideally, you’d like to be able to identify and make amends with angry customers before they leave your store/office. If someone leaves a review with a legitimate gripe or complaint, you should absolutely take steps to respond and try to correct the situation. Apologize for the misstep, explain why it won’t happen again and then offer an incentive to get them to give you a second go. You’ll not only mend the fence with that particular customer, but you’ll get the added benefit of allowing future customers to see how you address situations.

Someone is misstating the facts: If someone is on your business page leaving a nasty review about a doctor that doesn’t work in your clinic or about an offer they didn’t receive because it never actually existed, you should politely step in to correct them. They probably don’t realize they’ve made an error and correcting the bad information will help to add context to new visitors who stumble across the page.

The review/reviewer is getting louder: There are Bad Reviews and then there are Bad Reviews With Legs because they were left by people with a large social network. If a person with considerable “social wealth” says something bad about you and it begins to gain traction, you need to step in and do what you can to remedy the situation fast. Minor issues become reputation disasters when they’re poked by the right person. Learn to identify them.

When Not To Respond

When the person is mad at the world, not you: Some users are known for leaving irate reviews about every establishment they visit. If you go through someone’s profile and see that bad reviews are ALL that’s there, don’t waste your time trying to change that person’s opinion. Encourage someone to leave a positive review to help balance this one out.

When your hands are still shaking: If you just read something about your business that has your hands absolutely shaking in anger and you just HAVE to correct that angry know-it-all… don’t. Either let another member of your staff handle it or let the review sit altogether. It’s far better to have one negative review on your profile than to have a permanent reminder of that one time you went off the handle.

The best way to combat negative reviews is to be proactive about encouraging users to leave reviews in the first place. The only way a bad review can really hurt you is if it’s the only review on the page. The same way you work to get testimonials for your business, you should be working to encourage users to leave reviews. Sometimes the best offense is a great defense.

Lisa Barone is Co-Founder and Chief Branding Officer at Outspoken Media, Inc., an Internet marketing company that specializes in providing clients with online reputation management, social media services, and other Internet services. She blogs daily at the Outspoken Media blog.

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