Online customer reviews can have a big impact on your general reputation. While positive reviews can help you to gain the trust of customers, negative reviews could harm your ability to attract business.
The likes of Google, Trip Advisor and Yelp all allow businesses to respond to reviews. This can allow you to thank those that leave positive reviews – and apologise to those that leave negative reviews. Here are just a few tips on how to form a response and how to protect your reputation.
Is the criticism genuine?
While most reviews come from genuine customers, fake reviews do exist. These may be an act of trolling or they could be left by a competitor. Such reviews are likely to be inflammatory in tone and may be short and general rather than referring to specific problems (e.g. ‘absolutely terrible company’). It’s worth checking the reviewer’s profile to see what other reviews they’ve left – lots of other negative reviews of competitors left in a short space of time could be a sign that the review is fake.
Such reviews can be reported – a moderator may then take them down if they’re clearly fake. This guide at Entrepreneur offers more tips on how to respond to fake negative reviews.
Respond publicly or privately?
On many review platforms, you may have the option to respond publicly or privately. Both have their benefits and drawbacks and should be used in different cases.
Publicly responding can be good for your reputation as it can be a chance to publicly apologise and show off your customer service skills. However, you should be careful of publicly responding to very aggressive reviews – they could be left by trolls or bullies and you could find that the reviewer takes the chance to further mock you.
Private responses are great for dealing with these aggressive reviewers as you can take any heated discussion that follows away from the public eye, protecting your reputation from further shaming.
With any response it’s important to be professional. If the review is genuine, thank them for bringing the concern to your attention and apologize for the behavior. If you think the criticism is unfair or fake, you can take the chance to defend yourself – but do so in a calm manner. Never ask a reviewer to take down their review and don’t get personal.
Focus on building positive reviews
Positive reviews can help outweigh negative reviews and may help to strengthen your overall reputation. You can attract more positive reviews by encouraging every happy customer you work with to leave a review.
Resist the urge to write your own fake positive review – you’ll just be lying to yourself and there could be negative repercussions if you’re found out.
Hire professional help
Some companies outsource reputation management to help generate positive reviews and respond to negative reviews. Such professionals may also be able to monitor your social media and respond to any criticism found here.
You can also consider hiring a PR company such as Elite Lawyer Management. Such companies can help you to generate positive media attention, which can be enough to compensate for negative reviews. They may also be able to help with other elements of your brand image.
Learn from genuine negative feedback
If you get negative feedback that is genuine, make sure that you don’t just ignore it. Negative reviews can be something that you can learn from – they could point out mistakes that you’ve been making or they could show you weaknesses that you need to strengthen. By ironing out any problems raised by reviewers, you can show customers that you’ve since improved.