While no business owner likes to see or hear negative comments associated with their business, the reality is that a few negative comments are going to happen. You can’t please everyone—and that’s true whether you’re a small business or the President of the United States.
If you have recently been looking into your online reputation and are not happy about what you see, take a few minutes to reflect. Unless the damage is widespread and affecting your profit margins, it is not time to panic, yet.
It’s time to take action! Learn how you can embrace the negativity and make positive changes in your business model to improve your online reputation and your profits.
Use What Customers Say to Your Advantage
When a customer speaks negatively about your business, it is a golden market research opportunity. Who can you learn from about what your customers want and need from the products and services you are offering?
For instance, let’s say a number of reviews mention the long wait times at your restaurant. You could:
- Encourage reservations.
- Boost staff during busy times.
- Offer a free appetizer to customers who wait longer than X amount of time (if it still happens.)
Or, if people are complaining about the price of a product:
- Run a customer loyalty program to reduce the price.
- Offer a discount on the product or service.
- See what you can do to permanently reduce the cost of those products and services.
How to Deal With Negative Reviews
Establish Your Credibility
Let’s face it. No matter how nice you are and how awesome your business may be, you are not going to be able to please everyone all the time. Customers know this. If they are researching your company and find nothing but good things, they are going to doubt you.
Negative reviews add credibility and authenticity to your brand. Think about it about for a second. Nearly all hotels will have at least one review that talks about dirty sheets, rude receptionists, or poorly designed rooms. Does that stop you from staying in a hotel?
We may not stay in that hotel based on the number of negative reviews, but most of us are still willing to give them a chance, because we know one disgruntled customer doesn’t represent the quality of a company as a whole.
Show You Care About Customers
Some review sites will allow you to claim your company profile, and reply to comments from reviewers. As long as you do this with tact and do not attack your customers, then you can effectively show your customers you care. Be polite. If the comment angers you, take a few minutes to calm down before you reply.
If you reach out to a negative review and explain your side of the story, while also offering to somehow rectify the situation, it doesn’t really matter if the reviewer takes you up on it. What matters is that people who will see this in the future know that they not ignored.
Use Them to Learn From Competitors
Think you’re the only one in the industry who’s getting a bad rap? Think again! Search through the negativity on your competitors, too. It can help you make sure you are not making the same mistakes. You can use what they don’t like about your competitor to make your company even better.
Take it one step further, if possible, and offer an unhappy customer from a competitor, and offer to help them fix the issue with your product or service. You may find a new customer for life!