Responding to Negative Reviews Online Requires Skill


The Internet can be an amazing tool for growing your business, getting the word out about your products and services to customers all over the globe. It can also be a medium for disgruntled employees, unsatisfied customers and malicious competitors to smear your company’s name online. Handling these reputation attacks requires finesse and skill. Knowing what to do when you get a bad review can mean the difference between enhancing or destroying your company’s good name online.

 Don’t Respond Immediately

When you get a negative review online, the first instinct is often to respond to it. It can be infuriating to get a bad review, especially if you don’t agree that your company is wrong. Wait before you respond. It can be difficult to respond in a rational and neutral way. Remember that everyone who reads the negative review will also watch how you respond. Don’t respond with a counterattack, by typing in ALL CAPS or using exclamation points. This only makes your company look worse.

Wait for a few hours before you respond and think carefully about what you are going to say. Better yet, have another person that is not directly connected to your business craft a response. This will ensure that your response does not come across as emotional or angry.

 Stop Attacks Before They Start

The best defense to a reputation attack is a good offense. Build up a positive picture of your company online by having a website that is filled with useful content. Fill the Web with articles, press releases and blog postings about your company and what it offers. This way your company will rank higher in search, and have a more positive presence online. If your company looks good on the Web, users will be less likely to believe any negative reviews.

If your company has no positive Web presence, any negative comments will have more weight. On the other hand, if your company has a history of positive reviews, good content and a strong online reputation, any negative reviews will be quickly dismissed by your potential customers.

 Bury the Bad Reviews

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, bad reviews may carry some weight and cause potential customers not to trust your business. The key to preserving your company’s reputation is how you handle this. First, you may have to respond. Keep your response as neutral as possible. Secondly, you need to bury the review in positive reviews. Understanding how to do this effectively requires a simple understanding of how search engine optimization (SEO) works.

The more content a page has, the higher it will rank in search. This means that reviews that get more responses are pushed higher and visible to more people. This is why it is important that you respond appropriately. The more you respond, the more weight the search engines will give the content. This is where an SEO or online reputation management firm can save your company.

Your online reputation management firm will create positive content and post it about you, effectively burying the bad reviews in a sea of positive ones. Your SEO company will assist you in asking for good online reviews that can be posted on the review sites. The company will carefully craft content that will be attractive to the search engines and give the positive comments more weight. Before you know it, the negative comments will be pushed far down into the page, where almost nobody will see them.

 Fix the Issue That Prompted the Review

In some cases, a negative online review is simply a malicious attack from a competitor. They are intentionally trying to smear your company. In this case, the best thing that you can do is bury it. In other cases, the negative reviews are based on actual unfavorable customer experiences. While it is troubling to get negative reviews, they can also be used as a way to enhance your company’s customer service function.

If you are getting multiple negative reviews online, consider making changes to your operations to prevent these reviews in the future. If customers see that you are making real changes to address their issues, it will boost your company’s reputation and make it more likely that you will get positive reviews in the future.

 Ask for Positive Reviews

Most people who receive good customer service don’t tell anyone. Customers who receive bad service tell their entire Facebook list and their 2,000 Twitter followers, everyone on their Instagram and the entire audience of Yelp. Imagine having this same type of exposure for your good service or products. Include a link in your online receipts to review your products online. Provide the links to your Yelp page and make it easy for them to leave a review. Get as many testimonials as possible by asking your customers for reviews at every opportunity.  As easy way to partially automate this is to use online reputation management software.

Ask your audience to perform video reviews of your products. You may have to send them samples or access to a free service in order to get them to do this. A video review holds a lot of weight, and can be shared on social media, giving your company tons of positive exposure.

 Hire a Professional

One of the best ways to deal with negative online reviews is to hire an online reputation specialist – These Web experts can monitor the Web for mentions of your company’s name, build up your positive Web presence and respond to attacks. They can craft positive content about your company including press releases, social media updates and blog postings. They can also help you to create a system that will allow your customers to easily post positive reviews of your company on the Web.

Negative reviews on the Web can make or break your company’s reputation. How you handle them, however, makes all of the difference in how your company is perceived. The key is to ensure that your company already has a positive reputation so that negative attacks carry less weight and to respond appropriately to any negative reviews.