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Transforming the Customer Experience: How To Respond to Negative Reviews

HomeBusinessTransforming the Customer Experience: How To Respond to Negative Reviews

We’ve all heard the stories before. A negative review is posted on Google, Yelp, or social media. Suddenly, the business takes a hit. A restaurant stops getting reservations, people no longer join that gym, or few show up for a carefully planned promotion.

Savvy business owners take steps in advance to reduce negative comments and have a plan to manage those they encounter. 

Negative Comments Hurt Your Business

It should be no surprise that a lot of potential customers click the “one-star” reviews first. A recent study showed that online users are more engaged with negative comments than positive ones. Then, these negative comments sway purchasing decisions — typically away from the brand receiving the negativity and toward one with a clean record. 

Consumers also have difficulty determining if a review was dishonest or misleading. That means false comments can be just as harmful as honest, negative ones. Don’t let a negative reputation proceed your business, even if it isn’t entirely factual.

There are multiple places you need to track for such reviews:

  • Social media: Avoiding negative comments on social media platforms sounds like a great idea. However, businesses can’t really do so. Some consumers assume not responding means you are admitting guilt. Others will think your company doesn’t know how to handle criticism, which is also off-putting.  
  • Review sites: Prospective customers and employees often visit these sites to see how your company rates before deciding to do business with you.
  • Current, former, and prospective employees: Too many negative reviews will hurt your ability to recruit talent. Additionally, your current and former staff may post their grievances publicly if you do not address a problematic situation.

Luckily, there are steps you can put in place to protect yourself and your business from any adverse effects.

Preventing Negative Comments 

Adopt a proactive stance to improve your company and reduce negative reviews in the first place.

First Impressions

Positive first impressions are critical to building a relationship with your customer or prospect, in person or online. Often, the first impression prospective customers have of your brand is online.

Be sure that your online presence is attractive, effective, and functional. For example, frequent complaints about your shopping cart will attract negative comments. If your social media doesn’t fit your mission and values, you’ll be called out for it. 

Make sure that any visits to your office also generate compliments. Avoid common office complaints by properly taking care of your visitors. Ensure your reception area is neat and tidy. 

Hire receptionists to assist visitors. Train them to be friendly and knowledgeable but not intrusive. Visitor registration should be simple and quick. When asking for their data, inform them of your privacy policies and how you protect their information.

Customer Service

Your next step is to provide superior customer service. Surprisingly, that is rare in today’s market, where many companies have adopted a “good enough” approach. Have a plan that allows you to address every problem your customers may encounter. 

These can include:

  • Providing multiple forms of contact, including live agents, email campaigns, social media interaction, FAQs on your website, etc;
  • Hosting events and promotions that engage customers and prospects, such as in-person events or a loyalty club;
  • Responding immediately to your customer’s complaints with solutions and timelines; 
  • Offering some kind of perks, such as a discount or free item.

While some consumers will take advantage of your kindness, it is not a weakness. The positive benefits of great customer service outweigh the negatives. Soon, you will see an uptick in glowing reviews and, therefore, more customers trickling in.

Employee Satisfaction

Keeping your employees satisfied helps to build your company’s reputation. Provide great benefits and perks, have plenty of resources on site, and host team-building events.

These tools help them avoid a workplace burnout, an official diagnosis. Fatigue can be caused by many factors; the most common are work-related. Heavy work demands, long hours, short deadlines, and a stressful work atmosphere are contributing factors.

To ensure your employees are content, survey them and address their feedback to avoid negativity from staff. For example, you may want to provide personal time off after heavy work seasons. Or perhaps more flexible hours will help employees.

Handling Negative Comments and Reviews

Even if you do all this, you will still get negative comments. What can you do to address them? Avoid making critical errors when responding to reviews by:

  • Addressing the negative review as soon as you find it, especially on social media — begin a dialogue even before you find the solution;
  • Not relying too heavily on automated responses — people typically want a live person to handle their complaints;
  • Working to find a solution that you can share publicly — and, where possible, via phone, text, or email. 

Unfortunately, some negative comments are intended to harm rather than find help. There are positive ways to mitigate these mean-spirited comments, as well. 

When Negative Comments Go Too Far

Trolls and negative people can attack your company with nasty comments. Many probably do not realize they can be sued for negative reviews if they violate laws or content regulations. Examples of prosecutable behavior include libel, slander, and defamation.

If you feel someone has posted malicious content, have your attorneys review it to see the best next steps. A lawsuit may not be your first option, but you must take proper steps when people attempt to harm your company’s reputation. 

Maintaining a positive customer experience builds your brand’s reputation. Develop a plan to avoid and address negative comments and reviews, no matter where you find them. Transform a negative customer experience into a positive one, and your company will grow by leaps and bounds.

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Indiana Lee
Indiana Lee
Indiana Lee is a writer, reader, and jigsaw puzzle enthusiast from the Pacific Northwest. An expert on business operations, leadership, marketing, and lifestyle,


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