6 Tips for Managing Online Feedback

Using negative reviews to strengthen your business

No matter how good your business is, somewhere down the line you will receive a complaint from a unsatisfied customer, so it is important to be prepared and learn how to turn a negative review into a positive experience.

In the new business world of social media and online shopping, there are more opportunities than ever for customers to express their opinions, whether they are good or bad. Ignoring feedback via social media means that you are in effect ignoring a valuable customer base so it is important to recognise the value of online social media platforms and play to their strengths.

How do I handle it?

So, what happens when you get a negative review and how should you address it? The answer is to approach each issue in a logical, straightforward fashion. Okay, admittedly, the comments people make can be unpleasant, but in a manner of speaking, most customers simply want to feel as if their complaints have been properly heard and are being dealt with. If you choose to ignore an angry customer, they will be much more likely to continue their rant publicly, whereas if you take the negative comment in your stride, analyse the potential issues and arrive at a suitable solution, the end result will be a happier customer who could potentially shop with you again. In fact, by addressing a customer’s concerns quickly and politely, those negative reviews will prove to potential buyers just how effective your company’s customer service department can be. So here are Judge Service‘s 6 tips for actively managing your online customer feedback:

1. Don’t ignore it

Simply ignoring negative online reviews will not solve the issues, it is much better to follow good business practices and be proactive when it comes to strengthening your company’s online image. Why not set up profiles on some of the major social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook? In this way you can take charge of the face which your company is offering to the public. These platforms are a fantastic hub where you can offer honest information regarding the goods and services your company offers as well as encourage customer feedback. The more transparent you are as a company, the more confident people will feel about buying from you as you are showing them that you have nothing to hide. Taking both good and bad feedback in your stride will earn you respect among consumers as well as help you to build a loyal customer base over a period of time.

2. Professionalism is the key

So, you have received a negative review – how do you deal with it? This is where professionalism is the key. There is nothing worse for a company’s image than an unpleasant reaction to a customer’s criticism. You must always separate your personal feelings in relation to a negative review and maintain a professional attitude at all times. Provoking an attack on critics is not only highly unprofessional but it will also dramatically decrease the respect and credibility that your business ultimately seeks. Once your comment is out there, it becomes public and it can take a minimal amount of time to go viral on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook if you are not careful, so it pays to keep your cool.

3. Is the complaint a legitimate one?

There is always a possibility that the negative review you’ve received isn’t actually legitimate. If a review seems inaccurate or the comments come across as slightly ridiculous, reply to them but keep your response short and sweet. There is no point engaging in lengthy battles over small issues as it could reflect poorly on your business and might even come across as petty to your audience. If a customer does post an angry rant, it is best to create a polite response which indicates all of the ways your company has dealt with the issues they are addressing. Staying calm and publicly defending your company’s business etiquette will more often than not turn a negative review into a positive. Customers will be able to recognise that this particular person is being unreasonable and as long as your company has addressed all of their complaints they are more likely to admire the professional way your company has handled the situation.

4. A recurring theme is worth investigating

If you are experiencing a series of complaints about one particular issue, it is possibly time to take a good look at your business model, and study any areas which can be improved to bring a higher level of satisfaction to your customers. There might be some simple processes which need to be altered or introduced to avoid unnecessary concerns. Look upon the criticisms as constructive – customers might have done you a huge favour by pointing out something that could have potentially become a lot worse, and working to address the issue will show people you are serious about building and maintaining a positive public image for your company.

5. Encourage positive reviews

If you have followed all of the advice above but you still feel that your customer’s reviews are not providing a proper reflection of your business and its merits, there is a simple and easy process you can follow to change this. Encourage those customers who are happy and satisfied with their products to post positive reviews online. It is important that social media sites reflect accurately a customer’s experience rather than just listing complaints. One way to encourage positive feedback is to regularly email your customers to remind them. A lot of people will be flattered that you value their opinion and will be encouraged to make a public response in relation to your products.

6. Learn from your customer experience

Finally, the best way to avoid negative reviews is to focus on running a solid and respectable business as well as having the ability to recognise that negative reviews are not personal. Instead, they provide an excellent platform for you to work on improving your business or product to make it the best it can be.

Article by Duncan Colman, digital advisor for JudgeService.com.