It is an inevitable occurrence for every website, business or blog owner – the dreaded negative review. Whether the critique is about your writing, design or customer service, it stings nonetheless. The question remains, however: what do you do with a negative review? Do you simply absorb it? Or is it better to respond? Well, the very first thing to do is not panic. Difficult situations should be approached with a clear head. Below you will find a helpful list of steps you can take to respond positively to negative reviews in an attempt to soften the blow to your website and your ego.
Step #1: Evaluate the situation.
Ignoring a bad review is a mistake. A response should be drafted within 24 hours, or sooner if you can manage it. However, before responding it is important that you take a close look at what is going on. If the complaint is from social media, check out the profile of the person who left a bad review. Can you see other similar complaints? Does the person seem good natured? With a little more information you can decide the best way to approach the reviewer.
It is equally important to look inside of your organisation as the source of the complaint. Was there an incident that could have been handled better? Do you offer a product that might need some rethinking? Is there something online that might be considered offensive? Determining where the complaint or bad review originated can often hold the key to resolving the issue.
Step #2: Take a break.
Once you have assessed the situation, take some time to think about it. Quick responses usually don’t produce the results you are looking for. By taking a few hours away from the situation you can respond with positivity and work towards a solution. It can be tough when receiving negative feedback about something you are passionate about, so it’s best to wait until emotions subside before responding.
Step #3: Determine authenticity.
Unfortunately, trolling is a major issue online. Businesses will often make an effort to help a customer or website visitor, only to find that the situation is based on a falsehood. Before you go to great lengths to satisfy a negative review, make sure that the complaint is authentic, and not a trolling situation. You may have to do a little digging to spot a troll:
- Determine how long the account has been in existence, and if there are any positive reviews from the same profile.
- Try to find a name and a location; trolls often try to keep their identity a secret.
- Reverse search profile pictures. Trolls often reuse the same image across multiple accounts.
- See if there are other social media accounts that link to the profile.
If you determine that the negative review is unauthentic, it is perfectly acceptable to leave a quick response with information to continue the conversation offline. However, it is best not to engage beyond that point.
Step #4: Create an action plan.
Experts say that a bad review is actually an opportunity, and gives you power as an organisation. Negative comments give you the chance to use your brand voice to deliver excellent responses and encourage engagement. Your action plan for handling a negative review or comment should include an authentic response to truly resolve the situation.
Don’t be afraid of going the extra mile to keep website visitors happy. Always focus on the positive and include a sincere apology. Never defend your actions as these type of responses typically lead further into an argument and create additional frustration. Be sure to review and spell check before you post, and always thank the reviewer for their feedback, even when you don’t feel very grateful.
Step #5: Stay on top of it.
Many organisations make the mistake of not keeping up with a negative review. It is easy to lose track of a review once a response is submitted. Best practice is to keep tabs on the individual who wrote the review until the situation is fully resolved. Leaving an additional message a few weeks later shows that you are committed to satisfaction and happy website visitors.
Your determination to resolve the issue also deters future negative reviews and instead encourages a personal contact. Individuals are much more likely to contact you directly when they see that their complaint will be acknowledged quickly. Open communication can help you step in before people post negative comments about your brand or website.