How to Manage Negative Business Reviews

Handling negative customer feedback is all about your attitude. Not knowing how to manage bad ratings when they start pouring in or simply ignoring them sends your customers a clear message – that you don’t care about them enough. This may hurt your brand perception, preventing you from attracting new customers and retaining paying ones.

However, when handled strategically, negative reviews can be a good thing for your brand. They inform you about the problems you weren’t aware of, let you improve your brand sentiment, and help you build firmer relationships with your target audience.

Given that, here is what you should do next time you receive a negative review.

Build a Crisis Management Plan

No matter how popular or authoritative they are, all brands make mistakes. Just look at Pepsi and their bizarre ad featuring Kendall Jenner. The video caused controversy, sparking accusations that the famous brand trivialized the Black Lives Matter movement and everything it stands for. Consequently, Pepsi even decided to pull the controversial ad and pause the entire campaign. This seems like a major mistake and yet, they survived. How?

The answer is simple – they were prepared to address negative criticism and knew exactly what to do in such situations. They immediately published a public apology for missing the mark and answered their followers’ angry messages in a timely and professional manner.

This is exactly what building a crisis management plan stands for. In such situations, your brand looks extremely fragile and your entire industry authority is compromised. Crisis management gives you the opportunity to predict such potentially harmful situations and determine how you will resolve them. Your plan needs to be written in a simple language, focused on actual data and your previous experiences and, above all, updated regularly.  Run frequent simulations of an online crisis and see whether your tactics would be enough to protect your brand.

Prove You Value All Kinds of Feedback

Your goal is to track your brand reviews across multiple channels. Pay attention to your website comments, emails, chatbot conversations, Q&A sites, and forums – these are all gold mines of customer feedback. There are many tools like Google Alerts that will monitor your main keywords for you and alert you if someone mentions them online.

However, the most powerful source of customer reviews is your social media profiles. Leverage the power of social media and use social listening tools to track both your direct and indirect brand mentions on these channels.

Next, show your customers that you value their opinions, be they positive or negative:

  • Don’t delete or hide negative comments.

If a customer enters your store and tells you that the product they bought doesn’t work, will you ignore them? No. Instead, you will help them solve their problem as fast as possible and encourage them to come back to you again.

The same goes for your negative comments online. Not replying to a customer’s comment will only increase their frustration. Research says that ignoring customer feedback may increase your customer churn by 15%.

On the other hand, responding fast indicates that you care about your customers and increases their perception of your brand. Those customers that have their issue solved during the first interaction with you are twice as likely to buy from you again.  

  • Act professionally.

There is no reason to point fingers or shout at your customers just because they voiced their negative opinions of your brand publicly. Instead, prove you listen to them, try to understand their problems, and offer a solution to it.

  • Apologize publicly.

One of the most effective ways to protect yourself from the negative press is to publish a public apology for the mistakes you make. You know what they say – the customer is always right. Track your brand mentions across multiple channels and act promptly. Be polite, show gratitude for their feedback, and encourage a customer to tell you more about the problem so you can make things right.

Act on your Knowledge

Online reputation management goes far beyond tracking negative comments and answering them in real time. Your customers want to be heard and want to know that their comments are valued. They expect you to update your products and services and adapt them to their specific needs.

This is exactly how you should perceive your negative reviews – as an opportunity to understand your customers, learn what they feel about you, and tailor your services to their needs. For instance, if you start receiving numerous negative reviews and complaints about a particular feature of your product, why not upgrade it and make it more user-friendly? Most importantly, let your customers know about your product upgrade on your blog, social media profiles, online communities, local news, etc.

Use Negative Reviews to Personalize your Online Efforts

Negative reviews help you understand your customers’ needs, preferences, problems, and expectations. This is a great opportunity to optimize your website, create more helpful and better-targeted content, and deliver highly personalized user experiences.

You could use your customers’ questions as inspiration for creating an ultimate FAQ page that will help them find the answers to their questions faster. Most importantly, you will be able to diversify your content and adapt it to different stages of a buyer journey.

For example, if a customer interacts with your company website for the first time, you could create a nice explainer video that will familiarize them with your brand and products. If you notice that your product is confusing to your customers and that they fail to use it properly, create an ultimate how-to guide with lots of practical tips, instructions, and visuals. Podcasts, infographics, customer testimonials, and case studies are also powerful content forms, as they illustrate your role in the industry, build trust with your users, and position you as a credible resource.

Over to You

Remember that there is no perfect company or product. Even the largest brands receive negative comments. They just know how to handle them the right way and turn them to their advantage. And, you should do the same. Use your negative reviews as a source of unbiased customer information, learn more about the problems your customers face, and provide highly targeted user experiences in the future.

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