Bizwiki Blog

How to Deal Positively with Negative Reviews

In the last post we discussed ways in which companies can encourage satisfied customers to post positive reviews (along with some tips on how to make sure they are satisfied customers).

Now we come to the difficult task of dealing with negative reviews. In a recent post Chris Linnett says that companies have three alternatives for dealing with negative reviews: flame the publishers, simply let it play out or get directly involved, to which I have added a fourth option below.

Option 1. Complain to the publishers

In this case that would mean Bizwiki, and we have indeed received complaints by business owners who received less than glowing reviews and want to have them removed.

Chris says: “If the post is simply a freely expressed opinion, such as ‘the service at this business was disappointing,’ most site owners stand firm, because a local site’s life and legitimacy involves providing a forum for all valid opinions.”

And he’s right. Although there have been cases where we have agreed to remove a review due to the fact that its content contravened our Terms and Conditions, these are a rare minority. For the most part we see reviews as something a user has kindly taken the time to share with the Bizwiki community and we will not even consider deleting it without a very good reason. There is actually a lot of information throughout the Bizwiki FAQ pages about reviews. Have a look at the User FAQ and Business FAQ as well as why Bizwiki, as an online business directory, made the decision to include reviews.

Option 2. Learn from it

The second option is for business owners to accept the comments as sincere and try to learn from them. Companies that view the review process as a customer satisfaction survey can greatly benefit from it. You are getting free market research! Put it to work.

Step back and objectively decide if the complaint is genuine (assuming innocent until proving guilty), and could things have been done better? Does it indicate a problem with staff training, delivery times, products or services delivered or customer-handling processes? If so, then fixing the problem could lead to a real improvement in how customers see your company.

If you really want to turn something negative into something positive put it out there. Post the negative comment or link to it from your companys site and ask for comments from your regular customers. Do they think you could do better? How? You might be surprised how quickly the tables can turn when the business is seen to be trying to do the right thing. Customers have often come out as fierce supporters of companies once the company could be seen trying to make an effort instead of ignoring the issue.

Bizwiki will soon allow businesses who have claimed their listing to respond directly to reviews. We will expect companies to use this feature responsibly and take advantage of the opportunity it will present for genuine business-customer interaction and dialogue.

Option 3. Ride it out

There are times when a negative review will be something that a company cant do something about, and while a true review of a single customers experience it is not an accurate representation of your companys normal level of service.

Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, we end up making more fuss about the negative than we ever do about the positive and will thus take a negative review seriously, but in cases such as this as Chris suggests, ride it out and if it was just a rare bad experience sooner or later positive reviews from the majority of customers should balance it out.

Option 4. Take positive action

Im going to add a fourth option to Chris list and suggest that the best way to deal with negative reviews is to drown them with positive reviews. Take care that the reviews are genuine (more about the EU directive on fake reviews in a follow up post) and not written by you or a member of your staff. But theres no law against encouraging happy customers to brag about the wonderful experience they had with you. Have a look at the second post in the Bizwiki Review series for a great list of ideas on how to encourage positive reviews.

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