People have opinions about your business; and right or wrong, the reality of the online world is that they share those opinions for the world to see. This is a great benefit if they are singing your praises, but what do you do when a negative review of your business, products or services pops up on social media, within blog posts or on sites like Yelp? Unfortunately these situations are bound to happen and are not an “if,” but more like a “when,” for business professionals. What to do in these circumstances is important; but it is just as important to know what NOT to do in order to prevent a sticky situation from going sour in a very public way.
Ignore: Nothing makes an unhappy customer situation fester more than flat-out ignoring one even exists. When a negative comment appears on social media or a review site like Yelp, it can be tempting to dismiss it as coming from someone who is having a bad day. But business professionals need to keep in mind the rest of their likers, followers, connections, readers or potential customers are watching and waiting to see how the situation will be handled. Savvy entrepreneurs use these instances as a way to show that they are watching, listening and willing to rectify the situation.
Delete: One step higher on the impending wrath scale would be to delete the review. Chances are, deleting the review or comment will only enflame the situation and cause even more widespread discontent. If the comment/review is vulgar or inappropriate, by all means delete it. But deleting the comment and sweeping it under the hypothetical rug sends a message loud and clear to the person who left the comment (and those watching from the sidelines) that you are simply not interested in their concerns or preserving them as a customer.
Lash Out: Arguing, name-calling and lashing out in response to a negative comment or review will only take a sticky situation from bad to worse in record speed. Nothing good ever comes from picking fights online, and the damage done may be irreparable. If you sense the situation is getting heated online, suggest the unhappy party connect with you offline so you can work together to solve the problem in a less public format.
Forget to Learn From It: Within every complaint or bad review from your customers or clients lies a lesson. To not take a moment and look deeper into what has caused the disgruntled customer is to miss an opportunity to possibly discover opportunities for business growth, or even head off future problems. Take the time to reflect and learn from the situation and use it in a positive way for your business in the future.
Complaints are simply requests for assistance. Business owners need to be proactive and have a plan in place to help your team handle negative comments and situations with dignity, grace and the utmost professionalism.
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