Bad reviews are inevitable and it’s no use dreading them. Negative reviews can actually lead to positive experiences for you and your professional services firm. Much like in your personal life, no one is going to agree with everything you say, but you can’t let it keep you silent, interfere with your marketing or send you over the edge. If one of your visitors has a negative experience and posts a comment for the entire world to see, what do you do? You start by personalizing a well-thought response; boilerplate responses will not work here. It does not take too long to demonstrate good will and respond in a professional manner.
The Good News About Bad Reviews
- Bad reviews make you look like a real, genuine business. That’s especially true if you have tons of glowingly positive reviews, giving people the uneasy feeling that they're fake or hired imposters. This doesn’t mean you should avoid asking happy clients for reviews. Strive to tip the scales in your favor so that recent and numerous good reviews and press outweigh the bad.
- Bad reviews are a form of engagement, which is a positive. Be cordial and thank them for taking the time to offer up their candid commentary. Identify and acknowledge any positives in their response so that other readers can also pick up on the more positive elements. Then go into a point-by-point discussion on how to address their specific concerns. Invite them to speak offline via email or over the phone. Even if they decide not to take the next step, you are demonstrating your desire to completely address their concerns.
- Handling negative reviews or comments well makes you look good. Remember to keep some emotional distance when responding to negative reviews or comments. Even if yours is a family business or one-on-one service, don’t take comments personally. After you talk it out, you may end up agreeing to disagree, with a healthy respect for one another. So do respond (just not off the cuff) in cases where you can make some headway. (If it’s just random craziness, don't engage. Ignore it.)
- Online complaints let you showcase your client relations and problem solving skills. Take the opportunity to have a good-natured and open conversation with a complaining client. Resist the urge to be defensive or argumentative. Think of a classy public speaker you admire and find trustworthy; emulate his or her style in managing the interaction. Take it offline if the situation would be better handled privately, but if the discussion is going well and doesn’t require the exchange of personal information, don’t bother.
- Negative comments can be a learning opportunity. Especially if there's a common thread, you may benefit from changing something about your business or tweaking your website to fix what clients or prospects are complaining about. You’ve just stumbled upon a free focus group of sorts.
At one time or another you will receive a negative comment about your business. You will find that these comments may be fair while others are a way for the individual to let off some steam. Take the time to respond to them quickly and openly, you may be able to turn these negative comments into real positives. Just because you receive a negative review does not mean that they will have the last comment.Image via Shutterstock.com