customer-reviewsIt’s bound to happen sooner or later. You can’t please everyone. While researching your business online, you discover negative reviews people have written. While it may be gratifying in the heat of the moment to tear into the offender with a surly rebuttal, you know in the long run that won’t help and it could hurt. So what are some things you can do to overcome the negative impression these reviews create?

  • Be proactive. When finishing a job/completing a transaction, ask the customer if they would mind providing positive feedback. If you’re able to dwarf the negative responses with positive ones, then new customers researching your business are likely to take the few negative experiences with a grain of salt.
  • Provide an outlet on your website for customers with a negative experience to contact you/your company directly to deal with problems. This will hopefully drive negative feedback directly to you, so you can get ahead of the situation and hopefully resolve further conflict. In turn this could change a negative experience to a positive one, as that customer you helped may now go online and praise how you’ve helped them correct the problem.
  • Respond. Politely. Put yourself in the customer’s situation. They purchased a product/service, and it may not have been what was expected. Ask the customer what specifically was wrong with the product/service, and what they need to correct the error. If they respond, great. You now have a chance to turn around the negative experience for the whole world to see. If they don’t… well then future consumers may disregard the negative review as someone who was just venting, and was unreasonable to begin with.
  • Don’t think of it as a negative review, but as a chance to make yourself and your business better. Here’s an excerpt from an article in Forbes, The Upside of Bad Online Customer Reviews:

“Back in 2004, Jim Noble bought a $140 laptop case from eBags, a luggage retailer in Greenwood Village, Colo. He wasn’t pleased, and he wanted the retailer–along with any other unsuspecting customers–to know it. First, he posted an unflattering review on eBags’ website. That let off some steam, but it didn’t solve the problem of finding a case that fit his needs. Then he sent an email (with photos) to the company outlining all the ways the bag could be improved, including using a sturdier zipper that moved over a more rounded, forgiving path. eBags paid attention, made the adjustments and the case has since become a best seller.”

Sometimes a third party or different perspective can show you something about your business that you wouldn’t have known otherwise.

  • Finally, please don’t just ignore it. It won’t go away. Even if you don’t have the time or resources to deal with the negative feedback immediately, you should at least respond, thanking the author for taking the time to comment. Let them know that you are aware of the situation, and will get back to them quickly to resolve the situation. Then do your homework, investigate the issue and live up to your promise.