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How to Manage Negative Reviews?

Hiren Panchal
by Hiren Panchal  |  24th May, 2016 in Buzz

No matter how good your product is, some negative reviews are inevitable. Social networking sites are where customers freely express their opinions. It doesn’t matter whether they are right or not. While it doesn’t call for the push of a panic button, it would also be foolish to imagine that these negative reviews will not affect your business.

Believe me they do!

In case you don’t, this is why you should:

Reviews on sites like Google, Facebook, Yelp and TripAdvisor are the ones that help 88% of the US consumers determine how good a local business is

74% of the US consumers make their purchase decisions only after reading two to ten online reviews

Negative reviews can cause purchase decisions to be reversed at least four out of five times as people tend to trust these reviews.

It so happened that a young passenger walked into the washroom on a Virgin Trains journey and found that there was no toilet paper there. So, he did what a millennial would do in such circumstances. He tweeted about it. The social media spokesperson of Virgin Trains was alert enough to go through his post and reach out. Within few minutes, the train and the coach in which the teen was travelling dispatched an employee with a fresh roll of toilet paper. In no time, the story went viral on all media platforms.  The newspapers also published the humorous tale, which was good for the Virgin Trains’ marketing department.

Although there is no way you can avoid getting a bad review, you can at least minimize the impact of a negative review. To protect the reputation of your brand it is important to keep your eyes and ears to the ground. This way you will be in a better position to align your products and services as per customers.

What happens if you don’t listen to your customers?

This scenario is pretty evident with United, which chose not to listen to its customers. I refer to the case of Dave Carroll, whose guitars got broken and severely damaged by United Airlines. His complaints and claims for compensation went unheeded for months. Then Dave did what he could. He wrote a song and put it on YouTube. The song which was known as “United Breaks Guitars” earned 15 million views and caused a whole lot of damage to United.

While the amplification of positive customer experiences lead to word-of-mouth referrals, the amplification of negative experiences can cause great damage even to the best of brands. Therefore, not listening to the customers is a cardinal sin when it comes to community management.

There are many companies that play recordings from their call centers at their meetings. I have attended a couple of such meetings too. A similar approach was taken by Bezos, the founder of Amazon, when he forwarded the emails received from unsatisfied customers to all the members of his team, demanding an instant fix. As the request came from the top, it had to be addressed on top priority.

You can transform negative customer reviews into positive business opportunities

Social Media has provided a great opportunity for businesses to engage with their customers and create a positive brand perception. So, while you allow your customers to talk, you should make sure that they talk positive. This can be done by listening to their feedbacks and addressing their issues immediately.

When Hassan Syed, a flyer with British Airways, tweeted about his father’s lost suitcase, the company did not respond until the irate passenger felt compelled to tweet that went viral.

However, it wasn’t the same with American Airlines. A joke threat that went viral on Twitter and Facebook was dealt with by the company in the most imaginative way. The officials of American Airlines made it a point to accept their mistake and apologize.

Walmart follows the policy of soaking up the criticisms for a while. It then came up with its “No Free Shots” policy, through which it starts addressing all the social media reviews, engaging with its critics directly. For instance, it published a PR tweet, a part of which read this way….

“We are honored to employ #veterans & support them and their families in every way we can.”

However, one veteran took offense to this and tweeted back saying he never got any reply from Walmart after he had applied. Walmart did not ignore this complaint. Instead it tweeted saying…

“Please review our Welcome Home Commitment to learn more about opportunities & support efforts.”

It included a link to the website to which veterans could apply.

This is what you need to do whenever you get a negative review:

– Don’t panic
– Face the situation. Do not ignore it.
– Listen to your customers, empathize with them and thank them for their feedback
– Respond to them on how you plan to solve their issue. If need be, ask for some time.
– Try to go that extra mile to solve their issue and make sure you do it on priority

If you care for your customers, they will also care too stand in your defense!

Hiren Panchal

Director, Litmus Branding Pvt. Ltd.
Ahmedabad, India
Hiren Panchal is a Co-founder and Promoter at India based Branding Company, Litmus. He sharpens his views with analytical mindfulness. Just as his doer attitude wins over his believer attitude with a thin line, his thought leadership aims at making leaders and not followers in his team. His creative insights have created brands worldwide and he’s commanding in the industry for +20 years. Come to the point, he’s already there.