Tag Archives: Negative Reviews

Top 10 ways to undo the damage of a bad review

Are you tired of review sites gloating how “one bad review can lose you up to 30 customers a year?” We were too. So in the spirit of empowering businesses like yours, our team at Wyngspan dug up all the gritty research on how to bounce back from a bad review so we can help you repair your online reputation quickly.

Here’s what we found:

Should I even respond to a bad review? Yes, absolutely! But…only if you respond appropriately. Keep those knee-jerk emotions out of your response. Wait a day if you need to cool off. What you say can be the difference between repairing your image…or damaging it further.

Here’s how to undo the damage…and respond like a pro:

1. Respond promptly.
Yes, cool off first. But make sure you respond within 2-3 days. Don’t let enough time go by for people to start making judgments about your business practices based on a negative review.

2. Identify yourself.
Are you the owner? Manager? Say so and state your name. It’s a nice personal touch that makes readers feel more connected to you + your business.

3. Thank the reviewer for his time.
Oof. We know this one can be tough…but thank the reviewer for taking the time to provide feedback. This instantly builds your credibility + trust in the eyes of your audience.

4. Keep your response factual, not emotional.
When it comes to the Internet: cooler heads always prevail. Never be defensive. It comes off as petty. Remain pleasant, sincere, + helpful. Stick to the facts. Be the rational one.

5. Encourage the customer to contact you directly.
You might be wondering, why didn’t this customer just contact us directly in the first place? We hear you! Encourage this person to contact you offline so you can resolve the issue personally.

6. …but never offer freebies online!
If you publicly offer a discount to someone who’s written a bad review, guess what happens? Review site trolls start coming out of the woodwork! You know the ones…the self-described review-site-gurus who just love to threaten businesses to get free stuff. (Which, ahem, Wyngspan does not allow, ahem.) It’s okay to remedy real complaints with discounts…just do it offline.

7. Find out how accurate the complaint is.
Ask yourself or your staff: what happened with this customer? Was your team having an off day or is the review totally unreasonable? Gather basic facts so your response is informed + sensible.

8. Say sorry if the customer is (actually) right.
Hey, we all have off days. If you did in fact drop the ball: admit it, apologize sincerely, and move on. People aren’t looking for perfection online. They want to know you’re human + that you care.

9. If they’re not right?: Stay cool. Don’t over-apologize.
Sometimes reviews are irrational or (gasp!)… straight up fake. If the facts don’t add up, take the opportunity to highlight your strengths. Something like:
“Over the past 15 years, our family establishment has taken great pride in the overwhelmingly positive feedback we’ve received regarding our customer service….so we’re particularly sorry if you felt we did not live up to the high standards we’ve set for ourselves.”

10. Have someone read it before you hit send.
One extra pair of eyes will do the trick. Just to make sure everything is spell-checked, grammar-checked, and emotion-checked.

You might also like:
The 5 biggest problems with online reviews

News Round-Up: Your Behavior Sets You Apart

The second installment of our monthly News Round-Up series focuses on behavior and how it impacts the trustworthiness of your business. This past month saw stories and articles written about the consequences of responding poorly to negative reviews and the best practices for avoiding such situations. Here are some of the highlights:

Timothy Geigner, of online publication Techdirt, comments on yet another case of an owner responding to a negative review with legal action. A customer wrote a seemingly genuine testimonial on a popular review site, but it was not accurate according to the shop owner. After the review appeared on Google, the owner enlisted a lawyer to serve the reviewer with a defamation lawsuit. This response escalated the situation to viral levels. Businesses should always beware of the Streisand Effect. This term, stemming from when Barbra Streisand unsuccessfully sued a photographer for uploading a picture of her Malibu mansion to his website, refers to cases when an attempt to suppress information backfires.

It takes some longer to learn than others. Lisa Freedman, a writer for The Knot, reports on the growing trend of wedding vendors adding clauses in contracts preventing clients from writing negative reviews. Sure enough, news of vendors suppressing clients from publishing opinions has reached the masses, to which vendors have responded by advancing the legal jargon. While the threats have certainly been the cause of worry for consumers, they are not founded on an adequate amount of legal precedence to hold up. In contrast, one way to find a trustworthy professional would be to look at how a vendor responds to a poor review. If handled in a mature and reasonable fashion, it’s safe to assume the vendor understands its flaws and aims to correct them.

This type of response coincides with advice from public relations expert Allie Danziger, founder of Integrate Public Relations. She wrote a piece in the Houston Business Journal describing the proper tactics for responding to online reviews. Danziger recommends planning for worst-case scenarios by analyzing your own reviews and those of competitors. Have a plan of action that does not include deleting a review. This involves knowing when to respond publicly versus privately, politely suggesting a reviewer refrain from hyperbolic language, responding within a few hours of the posting, and then making sure to follow up.

Another expert on the matter, Michael Fertik, sat down with Ian Mount of The New York Times to discuss managing one’s online presence. Fertik founded Reputation.com in 2006 around the idea that parents would want to safeguard their children’s online reputation. He quickly found that his service had a far greater appeal to business professionals. When asked how to handle particularly nasty reviews from customers, Fertik cautioned away from responding in kind: “When you wrestle with a pig you both get covered in mud”—a common saying from Kentucky, he says. If the claim by a customer proves to be true, injecting humor into the discussion and including a commitment to regain the trust of customers should be the go-to protocol for a business.

These articles are all in response to a flawed online review system. Businesses and consumers alike have become more aggressive and opinionated online. There may also be confusion when interpreting a review, as a four out of five one place may mean another somewhere else. A system less prone to manipulation and with a more sophisticated rating structure needs to exist.

The intention of online reviews is not to start a battle between businesses and consumers, yet conflicts sometime become an unintended consequence. While both parties should practice a fair amount of restraint, it is the good name of the business at risk. Make sure you have a plan of action for responding to negativity and untrustworthy reviews before you actually encounter a situation. Preparedness facilitates appropriate reactions. The Streisand Effect is a real thing, and discouraging negativity through legal action or responding in equal fashion does more harm to the reputation of your business than a bad testimonial ever could.

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