Dealing with Negative Online Reviews 

Businesses that care about their customers care about what their customers are saying about their business! Negative reviews always receive considerably more attention than positive or neutral reviews.

I manage the online reputations of a few businesses and meet regularly with the management and staff to assess their online reviews. Whether the review was a poor star rating or a detailed explanation of the customer’s bad experience, I’ve witnessed the following situations:

  • The management combed through their CRM system to determine who wrote the review.
  • A business owner called an employee after hours and at home to ask them what went wrong.
  • A manager spent an hour researching the person on social media.
  • Finger pointing, yelling and blaming others.

It’s all a little bit much. We need to be calm and keep the situation in perspective.

Here’s our advice:

  • If your business has any online presence, you absolutely need a rock-solid system in place to monitor and respond to all online reviews.
  • Respond to all reviews as soon as possible. With a good system, it’s realistic to respond within a day.
  • For negative reviews, move the conversation away from the review site. Ask the person to email or call the business. Be specific with whom to contact and when.
  • Practice the Golden Rule of Business: Treat others how you’d like to be treated.
  • Don’t immediately jump to a refund or change anything within your business based on a bad review.
  • Evaluate the negative review, just as you do the positive reviews. Share the review with the relevant team members, seek to understand and look for opportunities for improvement.

The upside of a negative review? It is a fantastic opportunity to learn and grow.

I work for a restaurant, and there was a bad review about not being served for 15 minutes. After meeting and discussing the reviews, it was determined that this could easily happen during busy times. The negative feedback:

  • Made the staff more aware of when people walk in the door.
  • Motivated the staff to pay closer attention to customers.
  • Encouraged them to work towards hearing more positive feedback.

During the next round of reviews, there weren’t any that mentioned slow service, in fact, there were several comments about the attentiveness of the staff! The team’s revitalized determination ultimately improved customer service and experience.

If your business would like help establishing a system for online reputation management, please reach out to us. liz@thebusinesstherapist.com



Author: Liz Grady
Liz is our resident social media consultant. She works with businesses to create an effective online strategy; from website content management to email marketing and utilizing social media.

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