In an age where people can say pretty much whatever they want online without fear of retribution, public business reviews have become a tasty target for disgruntled site users.
No matter how sociable, likable and generous you are with your customer or client, some of them are not going to be satisfied. Some of them are going to think out loud.
Many small start-ups thought that social media was simply a waiting crowd, eager to sample new and exciting wares.
But review services like Google and Yelp, along with the social media big wigs, Facebook and Twitter have become stomping grounds for the disenchanted.
Steps to Handling Bad Press and Negative Reviews
- Manage your online review sites like Yelp. Interact with feedback on a weekly basis.
- If you are suspicious of manipulation of attack, contact the review site.
- Go directly to the one with the complaint. Email or call the customer personally if you can.
- Avoid introducing third parties where you can. Deal with it yourself.
- Use the bad press to improve, and then announce your improvement.
- Educate your team to avoid a reactive workplace. Brainstorm solutions together.
- Keep a record of all customer communication to avoid legal wrangling.
The world wide web enables transparency, but it also allows and even encourages, critique. Turning a blind eye can be disastrous for small business.
What is needed is a comprehensive marketing strategy to deal with bad press, negative reviews, and criticism, regardless of the source or the truth of it. Onlne business needs to factor this into their marketing
What strategies can a brand employ to help deal with the negative side effects of doing business online?
Duck and Hide: Ignoring Bad Reviews
This one is easy to do. Just take a holiday. Turn off your computer, wrap a hot towel around your head and lie down.
Avoiding some degree of conflict can be a sound strategy. Sometimes if you wait it out and say nothing, the bad press amounts to nothing.
You may even find that there are bystanders willing to step in and defend you.
The first reaction often turns out to be a reckless response, and there is much to be said for not responding at all.
However, tempting as this may be, it is not an ideal solution to forming healthy relationships in business.
Perhaps you’re thinking, “hey, the web is a big place. I will just hide away somewhere else online and avoid having to deal with the negative feedback. Hiding rarely works and tends only to complicating and increasing the negative reviews about your business.
If you are keen to develop an online business idea for yourself, you will have to face feedback. If you want to be successful, you will have to develop some thick skin.
Duck and Weave: Arguing the Point
OK, so perhaps you are not the kind to run away from conflict. Instead, you’re the kind of person who wants to get in the boxing ring over every negative sentiment that expressed about your business.
Self-justification is an ugly sight. Refunds aside, arguing the point with a client or customer is a short pass to more negative reviews and feedback.
If you want to entertain a career in boxing, go ahead. But if you want to make money online and have a successful business, then you need to learn to communicate effectively with your customer.
Good communication does not mean giving them whatever they want. But it does mean doing whatever you can to avoid further conflict and insurance that to the best of your ability both you and your client or customer come away with satisfactory results.
Duck and Run: The Quitters Guide
Some people do not handle negative feedback or criticism well at all. Their instinctive response is to quit altogether.
True, negative feedback and bad reviews are difficult to take. Especially if you have a passion for your business and you’re working hard to satisfy your customer or client.
It can be difficult to accept the criticism that comes from those people you’re trying to satisfy. It can make you want to quit.
Criticism can save your business. But many are only interested in hearing the praise and refuse to listen to the significant, though difficult, negative feedback.
But if quitting is your standard practice, you’re going to find it hard to accomplish anything in life. Those who succeed in business are those who have learned to take the knocks.
One of the ways to handle the knocks of negative reviews and bad feedback is to plan ahead. Have a strategy built into your marketing so that when criticism comes you know how to handle it like a professional.
Stand and Deliver: Admit, Fix, Move On
A Forbes article included a quote from some years ago which hits the nail on the head,
“We are frequently taught that leaders, especially aspiring leaders, should hide weaknesses and mistakes. This view is flawed. It is not only good to admit you are wrong when you are; but also it can also be a powerful tool for leaders – actually increasing legitimacy and, when practiced regularly, can help to build a culture that actually increases solidarity, innovation and openness to change…”
Confess, admit, apologize and fix it. You can do a lot of good when you decide to work with the negative feedback, rather than hide, deny or quit on account o fit.
Online reviews are today’s word of mouth. They can be a marketing tool that haunts you or an opportunity to grow your business. Look on the bright side: At least you have been noticed.
A smart marketer will work ahead of time in developing a strategy for dealing with negative press. Don’t wait until the day of disaster.
Having a strategy, even a vague one, can be the difference between humiliation and success.