How To Make Your Company Shine After A Bad Review Online

450971239I have heard this from more staffing firms than I can count. Don’t be the two year old of the business world who covers his eyes and assumes he just dominated hide and seek.

Unless you just started your staffing company this morning, people are already talking about you and your brand online. You just need to decide whether or not you want to know about it.

Negative reviews are not something to be feared or avoided. In fact, a negative review is an opportunity for your company to shine.

A transaction that goes smoothly and without incident will rarely generate the emotional response needed to create brand loyalty and a champion for your business. Think of the last few brands you told your friends about.

At least one of those brands won you over because of how they went out of their way to make something that went wrong right again. Negative reviews, comments and feedback give you the opportunity to respond with many of your potential customers listening and watching.

Many brands have built their fan bases around the way in which they deal with screw ups; people can make big-ticket purchases knowing that if ANYTHING goes wrong it won’t be a big deal. This piece of mind really is priceless: Costco, Zappos, and Nordstrom (just to name a few), cash in on the value of this concept every day.

Think of a time when you spent an hour or more on the phone with an angry customer (who may or may not have had a valid complaint). Hopefully, you checked your ego at the door, listened and did your best to make it right —  and hopefully that customer became your biggest fan. You hung up the phone exhausted and proud of your efforts, but that success most likely ended with that one call. That one customer was the only witness to your stellar customer service.

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With social media, that same interaction can play out on Facebook for all to witness. Your current and potential market can easily see what they can expect if something goes wrong. WOW!

Having said all that, it’s not easy and handling your online reputation is a big deal and needs to be done well and consistently.

There are exceptions to every case, but it is important to have company wide best practices. Here are a few points to keep in mind.

THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO: Respond quickly and publicly without arguing the specific points of the complaint. This will be appreciated by both the reviewer and those reading the review.

  1. You are in a public space on a social forum, people generally take to this medium to voice their frustration because they feel (justly or unjustly) as if you haven’t been listening. The sooner this need is met, the sooner most people will stop blasting you online.
  2. Still nervous that it’s public? I get it, BUT the people reading the negative review will see that you aren’t perfect, and that worries you? Well, everyone knows that businesses screw up! But if they’ve seen how you can handle a screw up they know when you DO screw up, you will listen, respond and that you will do your best to make it right.
  3. Don’t ever get into a mud-slinging fight, because you will only get covered in mud! There are often flat out untruths or misunderstandings in negative reviews online. It is natural to want to defend your brand, yourself or your employees by setting the record straight, but there are VERY few times when this doesn’t just look like a childish he-said, she-said contest. Show your customers that you care about helping and listening, and less about being “right” and proving the reviewer wrong. Perception is truth, and this is the reviewer’s truth. END OF STORY.
  4. Keep it simple and short. You want the angry customer to know you are sorry to hear about his experience and that you would like to find out more about the incident because he matters and his time and his feelings matter. Your goal isn’t to change his mind in this message, just to communicate that he has been heard and that you are opening a dialogue.
  5. Get them offline. Ask for them to contact you directly so you can find out exactly what happened and make it right. This will take the back-and-forth offline and contain the damage.
  6. If they won’t go offline and instead just continue to blast you after you have done everything right, DON’T worry! If you have been nothing but respectful and they just won’t quit, people will start to see that. We have all been behind the angry belligerent person in line at the store. Do you blame the checker? Of course not; you feel sorry for them and want to be extra nice to them. Don’t underestimate your customers – they know good when they see it.
  7. Follow Through – If you ask them to contact you offline and they do … follow up and follow up QUICKLY! If the customer does what you ask and you drop the ball AGAIN … and they don’t feel heard AGAIN … well, good luck!
  8. Do not delete negative comments or reviews. This is very tempting, but unless they are vulgar and attack an individual, resist the urge to make it “go away.”  The reviewer already thinks you are not listening and has no problem taking their issues to a public forum. If you delete his comment, now you went from unresponsive and incompetent in their eyes, to unethical and deceptive. If you thought the first comment was a PR nightmare, just wait.

So, WHEN (not IF) negative online reviews and comments happen, just take a deep breath, and listen, be kind and be respectful. I promise one of these nightmares will turn into one of your biggest wins.

MORE: Protect your rep by watching review sites

Nicole Weathers

Nicole Weathers
Nicole Weathers is social media advisor at Staffing Robot.

Nicole Weathers

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