3 ways to handle negative online reviews

3 ways to handle negative online reviews

Online reviews have turned out to be ‘glorified word of mouth’ recommendations in recent times. It is seen that about 88% of the consumers depend on online reviews before considering a product/service! A lot of times although the brands do an excellent job of convincing the customers, the online negative reviews about the company might turn the situation upside down. So much so that there are times when companies have gone to an extent of suing the customers for scathing reviews that have immensely impacted their business!

In today’s day and age, everything is web-dependent. From visiting a recreational spot to making an investment to consulting a doctor, it is seen that 72% of the consumers trust a brand for its reliability, expertise and professionalism after reading a positive online review. Given this scenario, how can companies deal with negative comments and reviews?

Here’s a list of ideas that can help you –

1. Stay Alert: The primary mistake small business owners commit is that they are not very active online. Being aware of what is happening online with and around their brand, with their competitors; monitoring and analysis of their brand positioning as part of the business routine is critical.

Tools like ‘mention’ are a great way to keep you informed. The tool prompts you every time someone mentions your brand name or your target keywords on various platforms. These kinds of tools help track and monitor your brand perception and maintain your online reputation, the way you want it.

2. Think and respond: As soon as you receive an intimation about your brand being mentioned anywhere on the web, make sure you read it. If it is a positive review, make sure you acknowledge it and thank the person who has commented. If it is a negative review, don’t be in a hurry to respond. Not all reviews and questions demand an answer.

  • On reading the comment you will know if it is a genuine thought, a legitimate concern or just an online nuisance.
  • In case of an authentic review, leaving it open-ended is a big mistake. Acknowledge the commenter, admit your mistake and apologize for any inconvenience and negligence at your end. But, standing up for something you did with the best of intentions or something that was not your fault is equally important. If you realize it is a malicious or false review, request the person to delete it or get in touch with the site and have it removed.
  • Respond professionally and as an individual from a brand and not as the brand itself. People tend to connect with humans more than the inanimate brands or entities.
  • Do your homework and give out exact figures or any information demanded by the consumer to position yourself like a thorough professional.
  • Never get personal with such reviews, it could lead to altercations, a strict no-no for brands.

A very renowned hospital in Bangalore had a very bad reputation online. The hospital did not realize this until last year when the number of patients to their hospital drastically dropped. During the management meeting, it was discovered that the hospital did not have a dedicated digital marketing team which could monitor their online presence. There were thousands of negative reviews left unanswered, positive reviews left unacknowledged, multiple complaints unaddressed etc, in a nutshell, the hospital had no existence online, but for the website which was created several years back! Hospitals like this with long existence think the online presence is just another thing and does not affect their business in any way and here is the result.

3. Act quickly: For customers who don’t seem to be satisfied with your responses, get personal with them. Take their personal email ids, contact details, get in touch with them to solve the issue. But make sure you put in your efforts for reviewers with genuine issues. Once the issue gets sorted, request the commenters to post online that the issue has been resolved, to reinstate the brand position.

Recently a Jet Airways passenger complained (but politely) of his backseat TV not working! JetBlue, the airways’ twitter account (which is also the online customer care channel of the company) responded to the issue within minutes of the complaint. The response read like this “We always hate it when that happens. Send us a DM with your confirmation code to get you a credit for the non-working TV.”

The concern was sorted without any delay or a lot of hullaballoo.

Acting on negative reviews is one thing, but working on bettering your business based on the reviews is a completely different thing. If there are a lot of negative reviews about your business, there must be something seriously wrong with your process. Address them to gain the desired reputation or get back in the game. It’s time that you start focusing on digital marketing for your company’s overall growth.