Negative reviews don’t have to harm your brand. Good online reputation management can help you turn them into opportunities that win you more customers.
What is online reputation management (ORM)?
Maintaining a stellar reputation includes:
- Staying aware of what others are saying about your brand;
- Responding to feedback from customers,
- Knowing when and how to react to negative reviews.
Different types of feedback
It should go without saying that any feedback needs to be taken seriously, but complaints about your brand on social media aren’t usually a huge problem. This is because they probably won’t show up in the search results when potential customers google your brand.
More serious complaints
Negative reviews that fall into this category are more likely to show up in the Google search results, giving them more power to harm your brand’s reputation.
- Negative reviews on review sites – These sites allow customers to share their opinions about products and services;
- Hate sites – These websites are created by angry customers for the purpose of destroying a company’s reputation,
- Negative media coverage – In the form of TV, print, or online media coverage.
How to use negative reviews to your advantage
Instead of fretting about them, change your mindset. Handled the right way, negative reviews can be an opportunity to improve, not weaken, your reputation.
Learn how to respond to negative reviews to lessen their damage and use them to your advantage.
Don’t get angry
Anger is a natural response to an attack on your reputation, but it won’t help your image. Don’t defend yourself. Even if you don’t think you need to, apologize and offer to remedy the situation.
Remember, the customer is always right!
How this helps you: this type of response might win the unhappy customer over again and cause him or her to leave a new, positive review.
But if the unhappy customer continues to complain, don’t get sucked into an online war. Simply repeat your offer to resolve the issue and leave it at that.
How this helps you: potential customers who read reviews about your product will notice how reasonable you are and how unreasonable the customer is being. Those potential customers might conclude that the initial complaint was as unreasonable as the complainer.
Address each negative review
Although it’s not pleasant to read anything negative about your brand, don’t pretend like it doesn’t exist. It won’t just go away.
In fact, if other customers see that you ignore a complaint, they might start to question the level of concern you have for customer satisfaction. So be sure to answer each negative review in the best possible way.
How this helps you: responding to all reviews, even those that are negative, shows customers how much you care about them and gives them confidence that you will work with them to solve any issues that may arise.
Highlight the strengths of your business
How to respond is just as important as responding.
Keep your tone apologetic and non-argumentive, but provide assurance that whatever upset the customer is not a normal occurrence. Throw in some of the business’s strengths while you are at it, but be sure to keep a sincere, not salesy, tone.
How this helps you: the focus shifts from what went wrong to all the great things about your brand.
You always want to give a personal response but have a template message ready for when you can’t get to it right away. This lets the customer know you are aware of the issue and will get back soon.
Of course, you actually need to follow through by looking into the problem and sending another, more personal message that addresses the specific complaint.
How this helps you: customers won’t feel like they are being ignored, which might help to appease them.
Use negative feedback for market research
Any feedback received can give you a better understanding of your target market. How they respond to your product can clue you in on their needs, wants, pain points…
How this helps you: increased knowledge enables you to improve your product and create a better marketing message that will draw new customers to your brand.
Certain situations may call for more drastic measures. Illegal behavior, such as giving false negative reviews, may require seeking help from a professional legal service.
On-line reputation monitoring is necessary if you want to maintain your favorable business reputation. Unfortunately, this includes the unpleasant task of dealing with negative reviews. But remember, responding the right way may actually end up helping your business.