Reputation Management - How To Handle A Negative Online Review

Reputation management is an extremely important factor in the overall success of your marketing strategy. With that in mind, I wanted to write a post about how to deal with a negative online review. If this has happened to you, I understand that it's really stressful, although there are steps you can take to limit the impact and even turn it into a positive event.

Here are my thoughts on how you can do this.

Reputation Management - How To Handle A Negative Online Review



First Of All, Figure Out If It Is A Real Customer

The first thing to do is to try and figure out if the negative review is from a real customer. After all, it could be a negative attack by a competitor or just a spam comment left by a web troll.

You'll probably be able to identify this easily enough yourself, although here are a couple of things to think about here:

  • Does the person leave a real name, one that you can search your customer database for?
  • Do you recognise the complaint? Have they contacted you about this before?
  • Is this a specific complaint, or just a rant against your business?

Tip: it's a good idea to highlight some of the review and put in a search engine - if it's a negative attack, you might find other reviews against other companies in your sector.

If Not, Ask That The Review Be Removed

Of course, the ideal scenario would be to have the review completely removed from the web. However, if the review is genuine, you'll have little chance of succeeding with this. On the other hand, if you have reason to suspect that the review is not genuine - ie, from a competitor or from a troll - then you could always contact the review site and express your concerns. If they are genuine and the review site agrees with you, you might stand a good chance of having the content removed.

Deal With The Review In An Open And Responsible Manner

If it turns out that the review is genuine, then you really have to face it in a responsible and open manner. Although it is massively frustrating, it's really not worth your while overly stressing about it. Going further, you have to be able to deal with it publicly, making sure that you remain professional and polite at all times (no matter how you might be feeling inside).

Here are some tips to help you deal with this:

If you think - or know - that the negative review is from a genuinely unhappy customer, the best thing to do is:

  • simply apologise to them and ask what you can do to make the situation better for them
  • don't try and qualify/dilute your apology, or try to put any blame on your customer

If you think that the negative review might be from a troll or a competitor, of if you genuinely can't see that this could be a real customer, you should:

  • express your apologies, but say you'd like them to confirm their identity or order number so you can look into this personally. Give them an email address to send the information to if they don't want to do so publically
  • After they have confirmed this and you can see that they have actually been a customer, you would follow the steps mentioned above
  • If they do not, then you can leave it there - if they don't reply, then it should be obvious to anyone reading that the review wasn't real

Ask Your Best Customers To Stick Up For You

Finally, so that you can really take control of your reputation management, it would be a good idea to contact your best customers, explain the situation and ask them if they would stick up for you by posting a review on your behalf. Don't tell them exactly what to say or anything like that, but if you have a few of your best customers do this for you, the positive reviews will soon outweigh the negative one.

In Sum

Hopefully this post has given you a good idea as to how to handle a negative online review. Here is a brief overview to wrap up:

  • Try to figure out if the review is genuine, or if it could have been left by a competitor or troll
  • Try and have the review removed from the site if possible
  • If not, reply to the review in a professional and polite manner - it's absolutely crucial that you reply to it, otherwise you run the risk of looking guilty
  • Then, contact your best customers and ask them if they could write a review to help you out

Thanks for reading!

By Alan MacDougall
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The Revenue Builder Blog is a small business marketing strategy and tips blog designed to help small business owners and startups maximise sales revenue.