media update’s Taylor Goodman unpacks three top tips for dealing with negative reviews online. 

No PR professional wants to deal with disgruntled customers or negative reviews, but it is a part of the job nonetheless. As harsh as bad reviews can be, not addressing this feedback can have a detrimental effect on your brand.

According to ReviewTrackers, a whopping 94% of consumers claim that bad reviews have deterred them from a business completely. If this stat alone does not prove how important reviews are, consider just how much influence customer reviews in general can have on your brand’s reputation.

Let’s look at three tips for responding to negative reviews online:

1. Respond to the negative review by listening and apologising

The worst thing a brand can do when a customer leaves a negative review is nothing at all. Rather, it is likely that, if a buyer cares enough to give you negative feedback, they want to be acknowledged. 

At the end of the day, the consumer just wants to feel heard — and acknowledging their feelings and sincerely apologising will do that. This is proven by Keap, which reports that 45% of shoppers withdrew negative comments they made after receiving an apology. 

To ensure that the customer feels listened to, you first need to ensure that you address them timeously. The longer you keep the customer waiting, the more frustrated they can get. 

Amy Saunders and Jennifer Leslie from Keap have reported that “more than 85% of customers think businesses should respond to emails within an hour, and 42% of customers expect one-hour response times on social media." By responding to complaints quickly, you are pleasing the customer and getting ahead of the situation before it can snowball and turn into a bigger PR nightmare. 

When you are addressing the user, you also need to ensure that you fully understand their complaint. You can do this by listening, without interruption, to what their complaints are and then trying to understand their point of view. 

After you work towards understanding the client’s complaint, you need to address them personally and apologise. You can make your apology more sincere by avoiding generic greetings like ‘Dear customer / guest’ and rather addressing them by their name or username. 

Additionally, your apology will come across as more genuine to the consumer if your brand takes complete accountability for any wrongdoing. This will prove to the disgruntled customer (and anyone who has seen the review online) that you are truly sorry and not trying to make excuses for any mistakes made. 

2. Go the extra mile to repair your brand’s reputation

Once you have publicly apologised to the customer, it would be a smart move to contact them privately to see what you can do to repair their trust in your brand. 

Although you can’t change your whole business because of one unhappy customer, you can work with the client to come to a solution that suits you both. Start off by communicating any changes that you plan on making. This may involve offering the consumer an incentive, speaking to an employee responsible for the distress, or making adjustments to your business processes. 

If you find yourself in a situation where you have no idea what the solution to the customer’s complaint is, don’t fret. In this scenario, it would be best to reach out to the client and give them a means of contact so that they can speak to a brand representative; they can then and work on reaching an outcome together

Going the extra mile to mend this PR mishap shows the consumer that your brand is more than just talk. It shows that you’re willing to put the effort in to improve customer experience. This will go leaps and bounds in making your brand appear as authentic and genuine to the consumer as possible.

3. Look for opportunities in customer feedback

With every grey sky, there is a silver lining, and it is no different when looking at negative customer reviews. As much as bad feedback from a client can throw a spanner in the works, you can learn a lot from it. 

Kathleen Lucente, president of Red Fan communications, explained this perfectly by saying that brands should be “taking the negative reviews and treating [them] like a to-do list of how to improve [their] business.” 

You can learn from these unhappy customers because they point out ways in which you can improve your products or services. So not only will working with a disgruntled client improve your personal relations, but it can help you provide an all-round better service. 

PR pros, how do you deal with negative comments? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.

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Now that you know how to deal with negative comments online, be sure to check out this guide to Crisis management: Three steps towards recovery after a PR mishap.
*Image courtesy of Vecteezy