Guest Blog: A New Voice on How to Handle Negative Reviews

From Fortune 500 companies to family-owned shops, online reviews have given consumers a powerful new voice and potential customers an inside look. Yet, owners often complain that their businesses are mischaracterized and wonder how to handle negative reviews.

A Window On the World of Customer Experiences

A review provides a window on the world of consumer expectations and customer experiences with your product or service. Were you friendly and approachable? Did you make the customer feel valued? Did your product perform? Was delivery on time?

A review response provides a pivotal opportunity not only to address the issue but, to create a connection between the customer and your company. In addition, it provides the means to reach and favorably influence the audience that will read the review both now and in the future. This is one way that companies like Patagonia, Lands End, Apple, REI, Disney, Jeep, Nike, and many others are perceived by their customers/fans as much more than product vendors.

Public Relations At Its Finest

Word of mouth was never more far reaching than now. But addressing every review graciously is the ultimate in personalized customer service. And the response is key to guiding each customer along his or her journey with your service or product. Reviews and responses are an integral part of that journey.

It is public relations at its finest and most immediate, in that it is public and all about relationship. Plus, a customized review response is an opportunity to express or define the personality of your company.

Businesses have traditionally used media coverage to make an impression on the public. And READY FOR MEDIA has helped business owners make their impressions positive ones. Now, we help business owners reach customers in not simply a one-on-one communication before a one-time audience of millions but a form of publishing – media – that will live online for the foreseeable future. And will be read by an audience critically important to your company: people who are considering the purchase of your products or services.

Asking the hard questions in interviews, journalists have always put their subjects on the spot, particularly in crisis. Therefore, the same techniques of media readiness applies in handling criticism in reviews.

How To Handle Negative Reviews

Apologize, If there is veracity in the complaint. Offer to make amends that are reasonable for you and your customer. Avoid repeating loaded or negative words, even in denial. Choose your own positive words, not the negative ones leveled against you. Brand your service by name, positively.

Remember that it also takes time and some risk of exposure to write a customer review. Being grateful to the customer who has taken the time and risked the exposure to enlighten you and your future customers is a crucial  attitude adjustment.

Take the high road in acknowledging the situation, and bridging to a positive, key message about your product or service. Address the criticism as a topic, rather than giving the grievance more airtime in your answer. Employ our C’s of Communication Be compassionate; cordial; credible; confident; clear; concise; calm, cool & collected. Remember that this is an unprecedented opportunity to sell your service or product to existing and future customers.

About Our Guest, An Expert on How to Handle Negative Reviews

ANNE READY is distinguished on both sides of the industry from print journalism and talk show production to media strategy and communications coaching. With over 30 years of experience, Anne has coached corporate executives, celebrities and sports stars for interviews on the TODAY Show, 60 Minutes, Nightline, QVC, PC Week, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, TIME Magazine, Fortune, People Magazine, and countless infomercials, webcasts and satellite media tours.

Anne began her career writing for the Chicago TRIBUNE, ADVERTISING AGE and the Los Angeles TIMES. In television,  Anne was an Associate Producer for Regis Philbin.

A published novelist and writer of young adult fiction, Anne Cooper makes her own media appearances with her latest non-fiction work on impromptu communication from Career Press entitled, Off the Cuff, What to Say at a Moment’s Notice.