Hello everyone! It has been awhile since I have written anything. In order to get back into the swing of things I want to talk about a subject that I know everyone has to deal with, yet few want to: the all hated NEGATIVE REVIEW! When I think about a negative review the first thing that jumps into my mind is the person yelling at the cashier in a store because they want to use a bunch of coupons on a product that isn’t even listed on the coupon, which is also expired. The person then makes the claim “I will never shop here again”. I know that anyone that also runs a social media campaign along with their website has seen their fair share of these and other negative reviews. Today I want to discuss the different types of negative reviews and how to handle them.
I find that negative reviews generally fall into one of the following 4 categories:
- The lie
- The exaggeration
- The non confrontation
- The truth
The lie refers to those reviews that make absolutely no sense, and you can’t even find any proof that they were even a customer of yours. Now I will give some people the benefit of that doubt and say that maybe some of these got your business confused with another. However, some people just like to stir the pot and will write negative reviews, sometimes even vulgar ones, just because.
The exaggeration is the type of review where you know that the situation sorta kinda happened the way they said it did but being that the review occurred on social media and that some people just like to blow things out of proportion the review just exploded. I see this usually when the employee may have said something that was taken the wrong way or there was a simple misunderstanding or even the customer was already on edge about something completely unrelated.
The last two are some what similar. The non confrontation is when something did go awry for the customer and instead of pointing it out so that it can be taken care of they didn’t say anything, because generally they don’t like to confront people directly, and instead wrote a negative review about it instead. Usually I see that in these cases the incidents are quite small and not a big deal if they were taken care of when they happened, however since that person neglected to bring the issue to anyone’s attention they suffered through the entire experience which only made things worse on themselves.
Finally the truth. This is when you find that the employee really did say or do something that the customer did not appreciate or that someone really did make that mistake. While this situation is in fact the most straight forward I find that it is also one of the least common occurring types of negative reviews. Now this isn’t because the customer isn’t right but that it is out of human nature to try and word things in favor of ourselves especially in a public forum
How to Handle Them
So how do you handle these four types of negative reviews? Many of the clients that I work with want to hit the delete and ban button as soon as they see any of these reviews thinking that people should only see good reviews about their business. This is something that, depending on the situation, I usually advise against. In fact it is a bit of a red flag to have a fair amount of reviews and not have a single negative review. Most of the time I look at the negative reviews and then place them into one of three sub-categories. They are either constructive criticism review, a damaging rant review or somewhere in between, which I call the neutral-negative review. All four types of negative reviews can fall into any one of these three sub-categories.
The constructive criticism is one of my favorite types of reviews. While these are still negative, they should not be viewed as bad reviews. They expose the things that can make your business better. For instance a review that says “shipping was slow” may indicate that either it took too long to process the order or that they might be willing to pay for a faster shipping method. Look at what your customers are complaining about and think about how you can improve your business. Then tell them in a reply or comment to the review, “Jane, I am so sorry that your package took longer than expected. As of today all products unless otherwise noted will be shipped within 1 business day after ordering and we will be offering next day shipping as well. Thank you for letting us know where we fell short!” I want to point out that responding to any review in a heartfelt way is important not only so that you can retain that one customer but also the hundreds or thousands of other potential customers that may read that review. If all you do is copy and paste the exact same “ I’m sorry for your experience, call so we can fix it” message, people will notice that you are not paying attention and that you don’t really care what they think.
Unfortunately the damaging rant review can really only be dealt with by having the review deleted. This is at the heart of reputation management. They have to be dealt with quickly and efficiently. This type of review is generally vulgar and does not cite any specifics. If for some reason it cannot be deleted, which is rare, apologize profusely, politely point out any relevant policies or information and offer an alternative method of communication. Make it a point that you are trying everything you can to solve the problem because remember you are speaking to everyone that reads it.
The neutral-negative review is the kind that goes “it was ok but it could have been better”. Most of my clients would say that they just ignore these because well they’re busy and when it comes down to it the review isn’t all that bad. But this is an opportunity! As always apologize but ask what could have been better. “Bob i am very sorry to hear that your experience wasn’t awesome, what could we have done to make it better for you and everyone you know?”
As you can see it can be time consuming to be personal and really dig into the reviews that you get. But it is becoming more important everyday because people read reviews and just because the review is negative doesn’t mean that you can’t turn it around and show them and everyone that reads it that you accept responsibility for what happened and that you really do care and want to make it right and improve the experience for every customer. That is transparency and transparency is key to customer retention.