No matter your business, dealing with a negative review is one of the hardest things to deal with. Recently, Amy’s Baking Company put on a clinic of how NOT to deal with a bad review, or negative comment, and while the vast majority of business owners would not respond as Amy’s owners did, it is still hard to swallow. What makes a bad review or comment so hard to handle?
The initial reaction of most business owners to a negative comment is a defensive one. That’s pretty much human nature wouldn’t you say. Think about it, how well do you handle it when someone delivers a negative comment your way? When a business receives a negative comment or review, to it’s owner it is like a parent enduring a negative comment about their child. That response to “fight back” is almost immediate. That is easy to understand, anyone who owns their business knows the amount of commitment that is required to start, run, and maintain a business. There is a reason many business owners refer to their business as “my baby,” the commitment involved is very similar. So yeah, the first reaction is going to be an emotional one.
This issue of responding to negative comments/reviews is something that comes up often in my own business. Often I get frantic phone calls from clients who “need to get a bad review” gone. Whoa! Slow down there Bobalouie… First thing we need to do is take a look at the comment itself, and then at the big picture of how that one comment fits into place. It is crucial that business owners take the time to assess the comment, is it really that damaging, does the comment have relevance, is the comment vulgar? These things need to be assessed before responding. For this reason it might be a good idea for business owners to give handling this task to others in the company, if possible.
Review the Situation
More often than not, removing (if even possible) is not the action you want to take. Many review sites do not even offer the option of a business owner removing a negative review. Use common sense here, if the comment is of a vulgar nature of course remove it. The most common successful response is to acknowledge the review, and offer to do whatever you can to remedy the situation. Done correctly by someone who knows what they are doing, the outcome can often go from negative to advocate. Overall a negative comment here and there is to be expected, everybody is human on both sides of the comment. Think about what your reaction would be if you read through 20 reviews, the majority good with a handful of not so good, pretty normal right? Well why should your business be any different, besides a review thread that has nothing but glowing reviews is suspicious to me…
Respond -don’t React
The real lesson here is common sense, patience and a well thought out response that hopefully will turn an unhappy customer into a brand advocate. Take your time to respond, think it through and don’t let your emotional tie to your business get in your way. The vast majority of people understand that things happen, and not everything is going to be all sunshine and unicorns. A rational response more times than not evokes a rational reaction in return.
This subject was recently addresses on SteamFeed Radio by Paul Cooley and myself.
How do you handle a poor response or review in your line of business.