The 10 Commandments of Dealing With Negative Reviews

Derek HansonCustomer Experience, Customer Loyalty

Cheering crowd

The 10 Commandments Of Dealing with Negative Reviews

The first review we ever received was negative. Frankly, we were a bit upset to put it mildly. The roller coaster of emotions was certainly an issue. The backstory on this was we had met this guy at a networking event that had a sales line that put you in a yes/no quandary. You’re damned no matter how you reply. So we declined a meeting to which we received his negative review. No hard feeling as this really awoke us to why we need to have a strategy for online reviews. Here is how we need to look at negative reviews.

Why Reviews Matter

90% of consumers in 2016 used reviews to help inform them of their purchase decisions. In fact, the star ratings are how people judge their purchasing experience. That being said it is important to understand that not all negative reviews are bad. The 2.5 average star rating for fast food reviews is simply what everyone expects. No surprise there. So understanding the type of reviews you have is important.

Reviews As A Marketing Strategy

The process of having customers review your business concerning their likes or dislikes should be part of your business feedback loop. Think of it as an information-gathering tool on business performance. If all you ever get are people cheering you on without any critical feedback will doom you to failure. Honest feedback allows for honest changes in business. Creating a process to help inform your business as to both its successes and failures allows you to know where you need to improve. To do this you need to consider how you capture reviews. A few suggestions are:

  • Automate the review process to improve business process
  • Make it easy to review on their preferred site
  • Incentivize reviews
  • Develop the personas for the types of reviews you are looking for
  • Communicate with those who  review you

Everyone Is Watching You

A review should be a part of consumer insight and public opinion. When someone reviews your business the overall public opinion begins to formulate about the type of business you are. While keeping that in mind what happens when your first couple of reviews lands you parallel to a mediocre fast food restaurant chain or worse? This is what requires the foresight to deal with negative reviews with a strategy.

Dealing with Negative Criticism

To The Commandments

Commandment 1: Thou Shall Keep Your Cool. Negative feedback is often hard especially when someone else is upset. So when you get that negative review be sure to keep your cool. Retaliating is not the response you want people to see. It’s bad enough if someone gets upset but then to see the business owner respond in kind just gets ugly.

Commandment 2: Thou Shall Not Blame Others. The buck really stops with you. Even if it is an employee who has caused the issue you must realize that every business decision you make leads to an end result. Take big businesses who in crisis situations have the CEO make a public statement and at times go above and beyond the call of duty to fix the issue. Depending on the gravity of the situation, they might resign and we hope it is never that bad. Take their example, own the criticism and adjust to make those amends. If they are reasonable they may just turn into a loyal customer.

Commandment 3: Thou Shall Mend Your Ways. A bad review can be the moment to look at what broke or is broken within your organization. It is clear that in any situation there can be bad days. We can make mistakes, not follow through on something, or simply do something that doesn’t please someone. Whatever the case use the criticism to figure out what is broken. Some businesses have gone to great lengths to ensure public safety and care for their business. You see this when a recall happens or issues happen where they take a proactive approach.

Commandment 4: Thou Shall Respond. After you’ve had a chance to compose yourself a  reasonable response by you can help people see that mistakes happen and resolutions can be made. Your discourse can often help potential customers to see how your business treats their customers even when it isn’t in their favor. At times this creates loyal clients.

Commandment 5: Thou Shall Ask For Reviews. If there are people who dislike your business and write a negative review there are likely people who like you and your business and would write a positive review.  Identifying these people and simply asking can be all that it takes for someone to write a positive review.  Send an email requesting them to write one is helpful.

Commandment 6: Thou Shall Automate. We often recommend automating your request for reviews. For example, if you are collecting an email address you can setup a campaign to trigger an email to be sent  asking for a review.

Commandment 7: Thou Shall Provide For Thy Reviews. Providing places like Google, Yelp, Facebook and other directories as places you want for the reviews. But don’t expect someone to review you on Yelp that would prefer to review of Facebook. The hurdle of writing a review is that it takes time for someone to be motivated.

Commandment 8: Thou Shall Serve Thy Customer As Thyself. Okay, I haven’t heard a lot of marketers talk about this but the move to do something a little different that benefits people. I had a company I worked with that we decided we would offer a free service and product to a demographic that wasn’t actually customers. The cost was time and a minimal amount of money. After the person received the free an email was triggered for a review. The company didn’t have many reviews but this turned a few reviews into thousands with a few months. Not bad.

Commandment 9: Thou Shall Culture Thy Team. I remember my days from Starbucks when we would have “Secret Shoppers” rate the quality of the store experience. Everything from the beverage temperature, atmosphere and the demeanor of employees working were under review. The reviews were often tied to who serviced them which gave me a bigger reason to care about my customers. Starbucks at times would give their employees some form of reward for performing well. This at least made me care about it. Now if a consumer has such a good experience with your staff that they begin to ask for your employee. Now you know within in your business they are adopting your values. This is a win for everyone.

Commandment 10: Thou Shall Deliver Value. Loyalty really should be at the heart of reviews. A customer who loves your business should be the reason for a good review. Many companies adopt some reward program as a way to value their customers. Yes, the value of your customers is often what drives loyalty and the customers who feel valued will share this. That loyalty then might drive a defense of your products, service and business.