How to Survive Negative Reviews in Your Business
There are two facts when it comes to receiving negative reviews and comments for your business:
- No matter how fantastic you are at what you do, you are going to receive a negative business review or comment at some point while running your company.
- No matter how thick-skinned you think you are, on some level, it will sting when you hear or read a negative business review or comment.
Seeing negative reviews are going to happen, it’s crucial that you know how to approach the situation so you can react in the best way for your company.
Taking Review to Heart
Before we get into how to react, let’s first address taking reviews to heart. There are people out there who’s initial reaction when you take something to heart would be to tell you to learn how to remove all emotional reactions and not take things to heart.
While learning not to let negative reviews stop you from moving forward is a good thing, I never suggest to my clients to suppress any emotional response.
When you remove all emotions, you stop caring about what people say about your business. When you stop caring, you stop making needed improvements and you stop putting your customer first.
It’s ok to for negative feedback to initially sting. It means that you still care about your business, your customers, and the impact on those you interact with.
However, if you find that a negative review stops you in your tracks and you no longer want to move forward, I highly suggest that you seek the guidance of a business coaching, a leadership coach (like me!), or a life coach. They can help you evaluate your situation as a whole and help you see the path forward.
How to Approach Negative Reviews and Comments
Even though it is ok to feel the sting of negative reviews and comments, it is suggested not to let those feelings guide your actions. To help you respond and move forward in the best way for your company, follow these five tips.
Do not fight fire with fire
When we hear negative comments, a typical reaction is defense; “You attacked me, I’m going to attack you.”
While this might be what you want to do, it is essential that you do not respond defensively. Attacking a customer or increasing their adverse reaction in any way will never fix the situation.
While it might make you temporarily feel better to state your opinion and stand your ground in the situation, just remember that fighting fire with fire just creates more fire.
Instead, approach the situation in a way that is designed to calm the upset customer and validates their perspective.
Remember the saying “The customer is always right”? While the customer is not always right, you must make the customer believe that you think that they are right. And actually, the customer probably is right – from their perspective, at least. If they have a problem with your product or service, to them it does not matter that 99.9999% of your other customers enjoyed your product or service. To them, their perception is all that matters.
Make the customer feel heard, validate their opinions, get to the root cause of their issue, and ask what you can do to correct the situation. Be 100% on their side during the conversation.
Represent your brand – with every word
In addition to perpetuating an angry customer’s negative emotions, another reason to watch the tone and words of your responses is that everything you say is an extension of your brand.
While some brands might want to be known for being rude, harsh, and defensive, I’m sure most of us would prefer to keep those descriptors out of our company’s brand image. Make sure however your response reflects how you want you and your company known.
In a society where everyone is quick to share their experiences on social media, any negative interaction can go viral. This can be in the form of direct sharing of the conversations or through a customer’s own words.
Therefore, it’s important to respond in a way that reflects who your personal and company band is every day versus how you emotionally want to react at the moment. While you might want to correct or put a customer in their place, remember that how you respond to that one upset customer can impact your current relationship with all your existing customers, and your ability to attract new customers.
Look for the good
For every negative review or comment you receive, you are most likely also receiving positive feedback. When someone gets you down, look for the good things people have said about your product or service.
Also, look at the weight that review or comment has in the perspective of a future customer. A negative comment on a Facebook post that will be pushed down on your page with every new thing you post. Therefore, it will be seen today but most likely forgotten by tomorrow.
When it comes to star ratings, focus on your overall ratings and comments. A one-star review among 49 positive reviews does not hold a lot of weight. However, a one-star review among three total scores has a much higher impact.
If you feel that the negative review holds too much weight, reach out to the customers who you had positive interactions with and ask them to leave you a review. New and fresh positive reviews can lessen the impact of the one-off negative review.
Also, merely reaching out to customers who gave low star ratings and asking how you can fix the issue can make a positive impact. There are even cases where customers changed reviews from one start to three because of the customer service they received.
Learn from the truth
As much as you want to do everything right and please 100% of your customers, that is most likely not going to happen. You will upset someone along the way. And the thing that they are upset about is most likely based on truth. Even if it’s not true based on your opinion, it is true from their perspective.
When you are a great leader, and therefore a successful business owner, you understand that everyone has different perspectives. You must know where they are coming from and use it to learn how to interact with them. What causes their reaction to your product or service might produce the same response in others. The more you understand the why, the better prepared you are to work with similar customers. It’s all about being emotionally intelligent.
In addition to understanding why the customer personally had that reaction, you need to be open to the fact that while they are saying and expressing their issues, other customers might be experiencing the same things. Sometimes we are too close to our products or services to see the flaws.
Negative reviews and comments allow us to understand where we might need to improve. Changes and improvements are not always required, but sometimes they open our eyes to a flaw that we were never able to see before.
Now, there are times when reviews and comments are not just negative, they are harassment. While you cannot delete negative reviews on reputable public platforms, harassment should be addressed through the proper channels for the site.
It is essential to call out that negative reviews do not automatically equal harassment. As a business owner, you are going to have to accept that not everyone will be happy with your product or service.
Harassment includes direct threats to you and your family, and posts by people who you can prove you have never interacted with for your business.
Unfortunately, harassment happens. If it happens to you, report it.
As much as we want to believe that our products and services will have a positive impact on all of our customers, it is most likely not going to happen. We all are all at risk of receiving publicly posted negative reviews and comments. When it happens to use, do what’s best for your business with all responses and reactions.