The best ways to tackle negative business reviews online

Sam McKeith

There’s no doubt the internet’s made it a lot easier for companies and customers to connect and do business, which is awesome.

But what’s less great is that thanks to platforms like Google Reviews and Facebook, consumers can now tell people – millions of them – exactly what they think of you.

With brand reputation so critical to lasting business success, here are some tips for how to respond to negative feedback posted online.

Thank the reviewer

Fast Cover Travel chief executive, Dean Van Es, says the worst thing you can do when dealing with online reviews is to get defensive.

“Regardless of whether it’s a positive or negative review, acknowledge the fact that someone has taken the time to tell you about their experience with your business and you should be grateful either way,” Van Es says.

“Thank the reviewer for their time and comments and assure them that you will look into any issues they have raised or pass on feedback to the appropriate departments.

“Remember, this is an opportunity to humanise your brand or company and demonstrate that you do care about your customers and value their feedback.”

“Remember, this is an opportunity to humanise your brand or company."

Respond constructively

“Forget all your business practices, processes, and why something fell over for the customer and instead put yourself completely in the customer’s shoes,” Van Es advises.

“Once you understand that they aren’t privy to the inner workings of your organisation, you’ll probably find reason in their frustration. “

This mindset shift can help you humanise your reply and subsequent action, he says.

“Explain that it was a system or human error if appropriate, but avoid sounding like you're just making excuses. Most importantly, reassure the customer that you're taking steps to ensure it won't happen again.”

“Once you understand that they aren’t privy to the inner workings of your organisation, you’ll probably find reason in their frustration."

Ask for a second chance

Once you’ve flipped your perspective and engaged the reviewer directly and openly, the next step is to demonstrate contrition.

Van Es says this means reaching out to the reviewer in a meaningful way.

“The customer has had a poor experience with your business and the best way to make it up to them is by offering them an opportunity to experience your service or product again,” he says.

“If you can deliver above their expectations the second time around, you’ll have a customer for life.”

“If you can deliver above their expectations the second time around, you’ll have a customer for life.”

Use reviews to improve your business

For PoweredLocal chief executive, Michael Jankie, negative feedback can actually be a good thing.

“You can directly address your customers' problems by making improvements to your brand based on what they say,” he says.

“Honest feedback, whether positive or negative, can help you see your mistakes from a different angle to make the right moves to better your business.

“The old adage ‘the customer is always right’ is 100 per cent true when it comes to feedback, because it’s about how they feel, not about facts.”

“The old adage ‘the customer is always right’ is 100 per cent true when it comes to feedback."

Take control of the process

Jankie also advocates trying to curb customers’ desire to leave negative reviews online, while encouraging those with positive experiences to tell others.

One strategy, he says, is to automate the sending of an email to see how clients found their experience.

“This way, you give them a chance to let you know their problems in a channel you control,” Jankie adds.

“If they have negative feedback, ask them how you can improve and if they have positive feedback, you can prompt them to leave a public review.

“In any case, you have been able to manage the emotion of the customer and provide them with the comfort that you care.”

Sam McKeith

Sam McKeith is Sydney-based media professional. He has contributed to many leading publications including The Huffington Post, The Australian Financial Review, The Australian and BRW Magazine. He was previously a senior reporter at the Australian Associated Press where he covered national affairs.

PARTNER CONTENT
How to maximise the freedom and flexibility of your business

Technological acceleration has seen business owners aim to combine a versatile lifestyle with their professional ambitions.

×