More and more brands are becoming aware of how negative reviews or bad press can damage their online persona, but few seem to realize that this negative press can be easily avoided with preparation and diligence.
A typical call from a client in crisis starts with “I don’t know how this happened, how do we get rid of this?” The simple answer is that there is no real way to get rid of negative press, despite what many online companies make you want to believe. However, with a little foresight and good customer service, you can stop these reviews before they happen.
Negative reviews are a direct result of poor customer relations and response times. Often these reviews stem from the customer’s frustration and disappointment with the brand itself, not with the product. I have found that most consumers will first reach out to the brand to get a resolution to a problem. But oftentimes brands fail to respond, losing the opportunity to even out the odds with what I call the 50/50 rule. 50% product performance - 50% customer satisfaction.
When a customer is unhappy with your product there isn’t a whole lot you can do. But you can make them feel good about your company, limiting the possibility of a negative review. Based on my experience here are five solid tips to help brands manage bad reviews before they even show up.
1. Reach out and ASK -- It doesn’t matter of you sell your product online or in a store, it’s crucial to communicate with your customer after the sale and ask them about their experience with your product. Ask them to let you know how they liked the product before they leave your store, and provide them with an email address they can use if they have any concerns. Then send them a follow up email asking them if they’re satisfied. When the response comes, react accordingly.
2. Be Patient, Be Humble, and Listen – Let your customers tell you why they are unhappy; find out what the expectation was and how the product didn't meet it. Use this information to improve your products, services, and marketing plans.
3. Refund – When a customer is unhappy with your product, stop trying to convince them otherwise and issue a refund. Apologize that the product didn't meet their expectations. Yes, apologize. It’s your product and it didn't deliver the result the client was seeking. Your ability to return your customer’s money is the most important tool you have. If they get a full refund what do they really have to complain about?
Even if they are disappointed in the product, they got their money back and you apologized. I have seen many reviews where consumers wrote about how they didn't like the product but the company was great and issued a quick refund. And while you might think this is negative, it’s actually positive because it makes the next consumer feel comfortable shopping with you because they know that if they don’t like your product you will refund.
4. Keep Track – Spend time analyzing your reviews to see where you can improve. Don’t get emotional, use the information as a tool to make changes and improve the way you do business. Another preventative measure to take is to set up Google Alerts for your product keywords, and react when something appears.
5. Don’t fall for the quick fixes offered online -- As someone who regularly handles online reputation management for brands and celebrities, I can tell you that this is a very long, time consuming, and expensive process because of the hours it takes to manage any client’s web reputation. Don’t fall for mass ads offering such services for a few hundred dollars. Content on the internet never vanishes unless that website shuts down or the page is removed. But with an experienced Online Reputation Management crew behind the helm, new and relevant content can become more visible in search results.