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How can I change perception after a negative review online?

A negative review is not the end of the world for your business. If you handle it properly, it can actually be a great way to learn and better the products and services you offer to your customers.

You will learn

  • How to handle a negative review online
  • How to learn from customer feedback
  • How to take the problem offline

From time to time, you will receive a negative review online, whether it’s on Amazon, TripAdvisor, your social media, or any other review sites. It’s almost inevitable that one will come through eventually – people find it easy to pass comment via digital channels. 

In most cases, one negative review won’t really be anything to worry about – a minor niggle that actually provides valuable feedback. It could be things like the sheets not being ironed in a B&B, packaging inadequate for a mail order business or a discourteous member of staff in your shop. All of these provide information that you can use to improve your service and delivery. It is of course always important to thank these people for their feedback and state how you intend to use their comments to improve your overall customer experience.

However, some reviews are more serious and could damage your business long-term, you need to deal with it differently. If the review is a reaction to something that you knew was likely to cause upset – such as a change in your Terms and Conditions or change in dress code at a golf club, for example – then it would be advisable to brainstorm the potential outrage responses in advance so that you would have a strategy in place on how to deal with any backlash. 

Online reviews are a powerful marketing tool but they can be used and abused by customers. Whilst most online sites have measures in place to combat phony reviews, if you do get any bad business reviews from genuine customers, the best way to deal with it is professionally. A balanced response will resell your business better than a heated reply. Wherever possible, take the problem offline and deal with it by phone, email or letter. But if the complaint has come through a public forum remember to state on there that it has been resolved offline, so it doesn’t look like it has been ignored.
Users often take to social media to air their thoughts on service or product dissatisfaction – it is vital that your business monitors social channels and responds to feedback quickly. Leaving tweets unanswered will just compound the problem – but responding within 15 minutes can make all the difference when it comes to consumer perception.

Try to flip a negative into a positive – be honest when responding to any online feedback. Certainly you should never hide any complaints, comments or make excuses. Go completely out of your way to make it better – deliver beyond expectations – a gift voucher or discount on their next purchase just isn’t enough – personalize the apology within the constraints of your brand. 

Thousands of people could potentially read your response so always, always, always think before you type! 

Notoriously, Dell received a negative blog post in 2005 which led to them reviewing their online service and they are now recognised as being leaders in online service. They learnt that they (and any company) should treat online customers as valued customers. They implemented a reputation management strategy that allowed them to engage with customers, adopting a listen first and sell second approach.

You need to monitor what people are saying about your brand – set up Google Alerts, conduct a Twitter and Facebook search for your brand name, check TripAdvisor or your industry’s intermediary site. 

Dealing with a negative review online quickly and professionally is the best way to make sure that your reputation stays positive.


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Written by:

Deborah Goodall

Marketing expert

Email Address:

Telephone: 07903 387 143