Everything you need to know about dealing with negative online reviews of your business is here in this article. You’ll also learn how to understand and treat your customers better.
Negative reviews happen, just like some other things life. Sometimes more often, sometimes less, but they still do. And there’s nothing you can do about it. We, as humans, always feel the strong need to voice our opinion and be heard, whether someone else listens or not.
So you might as well just keep calm and take negative online reviews easy. And if you’re smart enough (and I know you are), you can make these reviews work for you – I’ll show you how in just a few seconds. Oh, I see you have a few questions – OK, let’s answer those questions first.
What Are Negative Online Reviews?
Online reviews (not necessarily negative, you know) are essentially pieces of feedback from customers/users, who had an experience with your product/service and would like to share this experience with the rest of the world.
Reviews usually feature:
- some text, describing the experience (the main part)
- rating (usually in the form of X out 5 stars)
- author name, sometimes with contact details
Where Do I Find These Negative Online Reviews?
Everywhere:) But seriously, there are a few common places where you most probably should find the reviews of your business. They are:
1. Your Website and/or Social Media Accounts
Gotcha! I guess you didn’t see it coming, did you? Of course, the easiest place for people to leave their feedback would be the place where they had initial experience with your product/service. Lucky you if your angry customer didn’t go public and wrote a message straight to you as a business owner or to your support team. More often than not people would use the appropriate “Comments” or “Reviews” section to voice out their opinion, so keep your eyes on it constantly.
2. Specialized Business Review Websites and Services
Yes, there are such. Some of the most well-known review websites are Yelp, Angie’s List, TripAdvisor, and others. People are keen to take their opinion to these websites and this trend is only growing stronger. On one hand, this is a great opportunity for customers to be heard; on the other hand, it’s also very helpful for those who are still looking for a product/service – they decide whether it’s worth it or not, based on those reviews.
3. Personal Social Media Account / Blog
Some people may take your product/service seriously and post their experience with it on their Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram page. If your customer happens to be a blogger, he or she can post a review on that blog, thus sharing the experience with subscribers/readers.
4. Various App and Game Stores
If you’re into mobile apps or games, you will most definitely use iTunes App Store, Google Play or similar to distribute and market your product. Each one of these stores has user reviews section and it’s very important to maintain your app/game rating above 4 stars. Overall rating and featured reviews (the ones that you see up on top, usually 3 to 5 most voted up reviews) are one the key factors when it comes to deciding whether to download an app/game or not.
Why Do People Write These Negative Reviews at All?
Well, because they’re people. Self-actualization is one of the basic human needs, if you remember the famous Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:
As you can clearly, it’s not the most urgent need, but it’s there and you have to be aware of that.
When someone writes a review (negative or positive, doesn’t matter), it’s not about you, really. It’s mostly about them. That’s why so few people write their feedback directly to the company’s management or customer support – cause in this case no one’s gonna see it, except for you or your employees. Reviews are written to be seen, read and heard – only in this case customers self-actualize themselves by receiving views, likes, comments and general attention from peers.
Here are some of the most possible reasons behind a negative online review from your customer:
You Screwed Up
Yep, sometimes it’s clearly your fault. You promised something (verbally or via your advertising) and you did not deliver. For example, you stated that your products are shipped within 48 hours from the moment of purchase. A user received his or her product one day later than that – guess what they’ll do? Right, and you are to blame. Never make promises that you can’t keep. Check the “Guide to Successful Content Strategy” article to become an expert in this field.
Customer’s Expectations Were Not Met
Now that’s a tricky one. For some reason, you customer expected one thing and received something else. And it may not be entirely your fault.
For example, you have an app on the App Store – a simple shooter game that suggests killing monsters. Your game is initially free but in order to play any level you need to subscribe/pay. That ruins most users’ expectations and leaves you with tons of 1-star reviews. Act towards solving the issue – find out what initial user expectations are (or were) and try to adjust your strategy accordingly. In this case, you can either give users a bunch of free levels to start from (as an incentive), or make your app paid in the first place.
Customer Simply Had a Bad Day
People are emotional creatures, who can act quite irrationally sometimes. Some of the negative reviews that you get might be coming from customers who don’t really see anything wrong with your product. They simply were in a bad mood and needed to vent – you just happened to stand in their way, unfortunately.
The best thing to do here would be keeping it calm and acting like a human being. Try to be as empathetic and polite as possible – after all, these people just need some genuine and sincere attention. Give it to them and you’ll be rewarded with a happy customer.
Customer Is a Natural-Born Jerk
This is the least possible reason behind a negative online review, but it’s still there. Whether we like it or not, some people are just restless in their attempts to make other people’s life miserable.
Such reviews are usually strong-worded and have little to zero argumentation, other that your business/product/service sucks and you are an a**hole.
The worst thing you could do is try to reason with this person using valid arguments, defending your position. You’ll just «feed the troll». Instead, you can find the service, which this review has been posted on, to remove the defamatory review as it clearly damages your business reputation. There are many other customers (current and perspective) who are waiting for your attention, and these people are just not worth your time.
Knowing these types of reviews will help you choose the appropriate tactics for dealing with every negative online review that you get.
What You Ought to Know About Negative Online Reviews (Before You Deal with Them)
Before you start dealing with negative reviews, there are a few things you should keep in mind, and here they are:
1. Bad Reviews Don’t Necessarily Mean That You Are Bad
There’s Apple. And there’s Google. And Microsoft. And whoever else. Does it mean that one company is better than the others? On a personal level, yes, but generally speaking – no, they’re not.
It all depends on a point of view, and everyone has their own. If a customer doesn’t like your company/product/service, it may be simply because you’re not the right fit for them. It’s a good thing that your marketing efforts led this person to your website, but if he or she were left unsatisfied (provided you did everything right), there’s nothing wrong with it, really.
So, relax and take it easy. As you grow, you will have to deal with an increasing amount of negative reviews simply because of the scale. If you have 1,000 customers, at least 10 out of them won’t like your product/service. And if you have 1,000,000 customers, you’ll have to deal with at least 10,000 negative online reviews. Think about it.
2. Negative Reviews From Dedicated Customers Are a Blessing
And you know why? Because it’s a chance for you to understand what’s really wrong with your product and how to improve it. As the study by Lee Resources suggests, for every angry customer who complains, 26 other angry ones remain silent.
So, whenever you get a negative review from your dedicated customers, do thank them, for they’re helping you develop your business.
3. Negative Review: Treat It Right, and You’re the Boss
If your customer simply had a bad day (we’ve just discussed that a few paragraphs above), it’s up to you to cheer him up using the authority and wisdom.
For example, a customer wrote a comment on your product page, asserting that your product sucks because it’s too expensive for him. Well, stay human and address the issue with authority that only a business owner can have – listen to the man and give him a discount! See what happens next – this user will most probably become your lifetime fan and will most likely retell this story to his/her friends, thus giving your business some extra word-of-mouth promotion.
4. Negative Reviews Come More Often Than Positive
This is a very simple thought, yet many people do not realize it. Many up-and-coming businesses keep wondering, “Why do people write only bad things about my product? Isn’t there anyone who likes me?”
Yes, there is. In fact, there may be a lot of people who are genuinely in love with your product or service – more than you can imagine. They just don’t bother to write about it. What’s to write about if everything’s fine? You don’t come to your friends to say, that you’re a perfect mood today and everything couldn’t have been better. But if you have a problem or need someone’s help, there you go – you will cling on your friends’ shoulders unless they will hear you out or help you with your problem.
Don’t be too upset if you receive mostly negative feedback. It will always prevail and you don’t need to stimulate it. What you can do though is stimulate positive feedback and ask satisfied customers to share their positive experience (we’ll talk about it in a bit).
5. Negative Review Is Not the Problem. It Is a RESULT of a Problem
A good way to deal with negative online reviews is trying to look beyond what’s written in there. A bad review usually was triggered by some flaw in your customer experience and it’s your major concern to find out that flaw and fix it.
Be smart and don’t fight the problem. Fight the cause.
6 Successful Tactics Of Dealing With Negative Online Reviews
Now, when you know as much as you should know about the subject, let’s get down straight to the art of dealing with negative online reviews. Here 6 successful tactics you might want to employ for your business.
Tactic #1. Respond Promptly
People don’t want to wait for ages until you get the chance to look at their review. Any posted negative review is a warning sign for your business reputation, so act immediately. Find out where it came from, what the circumstances were and what the tone of your response should be, based on the type of the review (see above).
That means you have to keep tracking online review 24/7 – there are tools for that, such as Social Mention, Review Trackers or Reputology. In this case you’ll be notified of every negative review of your business whenever it pops up on the Internet.
Tactic #2. React Adequately
Before you even start writing a response, you need to understand what type of person (or negative review) you are dealing with. Is it just a jerk who is trying to put you down? Or is it a dedicated customer who complains about a real problem?
Figure out which one it is by gathering as much information about the issue (and the customer) in question as possible: customer name/address/contact details, date of purchase, exact product, terms of purchase, and, most importantly, the essence of the issue.
If you’re not sure about what happened, ask the customer for clarification – most of the times people would be glad to give you additional information regarding their problem.
Tactic # 3. Take the Issue Offline
Whenever possible, try not to interact with angry customers directly online via chats, forums, or review websites. Even if you leave your customer satisfied with your reply, there’s a good chance it’ll attract some trolls. These trolls won’t hesitate to write bad things not only about your business, but about yourself. You risk damaging your own reputation, and they risk nothing because they’re anonymous trolls.
Instead, try contacting your angry customers via traditional means of communication such as email, phone, or even regular mail. This will achieve three goals:
- show this person your personalized approach;
- save you the time and hassle;
- eventually, solve the problem!
Tactic # 4. Encourage Positive Reviews
Whatever you do, you have to be proactive. Dealing with negative online reviews successfully is one thing, but encouraging positive reviews is a whole different world.
If your business is profitable and you have customers, chances are that most of them are happy and quite satisfied with it. So, why hesitate? Go out there and ask them for a review?
However it’s not all that simple. You have to be aware that not all customers are willing to do WHAT you say and WHEN you say it. You need to break down your customers into a few segments and approach each segment separately.
First, define the objective criteria for a satisfied customer. For example, if a user spends twice more than time than average in your service, he can be considered satisfied. Some of the tactics that I mentioned in “How to create a buyer persona” article may prove useful, so check them out.
Second, try to define a moment when your customer receives the most pleasure from your product/service. A classic example from mobile games – when you successfully complete another level, you will most likely be asked to rate/review the app. And – guess what – many people do!
To sum it up, define the criteria for the satisfied customers, choose a segment based on these criteria, find out the best moment to ask customers for a review and then, ONLY THEN, ask them for it.
Tactic #5. Integrate Handling Negative Reviews Into Your Business Process
No negative review should come to you as a surprise – you and your team should be ready to deal with any negative online review possible. That means you should have a clear plan of action for such things and even automate some of the responses.
The top class response, however, is the response you never write, because the problem’s been eliminated long before it may have caused a bad review.
For example, you have a lot of users complain about not receiving an activation email from you. Who knows, maybe it’s being put into spam folder by their email client, maybe it’s some server problem. GET RID OF THIS PROBLEM. Stop using activation emails and introduce authorization via social networks, as an option. No problem = no negative reviews.
Remember: great customer care specialists don’t solve problems, they prevent them.
Tactic #6. No Matter What, Be Polite… and Human!
People can be rude sometimes. They can overreact to minor issues. But they’re still people and they want to be treated like ones. So give your customers a favor – treat them with utmost respect and genuine care.
Never ever try to argue with your customers or tell them they’re wrong, because they’re not. At least, not in their own eyes. Share some love and you’re bound to get some in reward. Whatever the issue may be, always stay polite, and act directly towards solving the issue, while showing your respect for the client.
Thanks for reading this article! I hope it was useful and interesting for you. And before I sign off, there’s one last thing to consider when dealing with negative online reviews – avoid being too formal.
All these “Dear John, this is to inform you that…” – NO. Speak the language of your customer – which may even involve slang sometimes. So what? After all, it shows your customers that you’re just a regular person, and not some corporate entity. Good luck!
The right thing to do would be share this article with your friends on the social networks – just click on one of the icons of social media, it’s that easy.
If you have further questions on the subject, please write them in comments – I’ll be glad to answer.