It can happen to the best of us – the dreaded negative online review. Maybe a disgruntled customer gave you an ugly shout-out on Yelp. Or, maybe someone on Facebook “disliked” you in a huge way.
Even if you are unsure of how you displeased someone enough to make a heinous, very public remark about you, you can definitely be sure of this – that negative review can do serious damage to your brand if you do not respond swiftly and thoroughly. In this article, I’ll show you how to do both.
The first thing to do is understand that you are not in control. Social media has given people the power to share, and you simply cannot control what people will share about you. However, you do not have to be in control to respond effectively if a fire does break out on Yelp or any other review site. Smart reputation management will allow you to shape the message, even if you cannot control it.
Putting Out the Fire
If things get ugly, here are three ways to do damage control:
1. Reach out to the person privately
If you made a mistake, own up to it. Being humble and accommodating can help turn your biggest critic into one of your biggest fans because you have the chance to make a personal connection with him or her. Focus on how to make it right, rather than on the negative review, and keep your frustration at bay. Often, an open and honest dialogue is all you need to set things straight.
2. Keep your cool
Whatever happens, do not allow yourself to get drawn into a fight. When someone is rude, it can be very difficult not to lose your temper and argue back. However, now is the time to be calm and professional, remembering that your brand’s reputation is more important than your personal feelings on the matter.
3. Go public
This may be the most important thing you can do. A concise, sophisticated, and decisive public statement can help smooth the incident over relatively quickly. You may not be able to win over the critic, but your public statement will be observed by thousands of other people. Your goal is to win those people over by being diplomatic and professional, while showing that you care about your brand and your customers.
In today’s word-of-mouth environment, your customers are more likely to listen to one of their peers than to your official marketing messages. So if the dreaded online negative review happens to you, try these tips for salvaging your reputation and keeping your brand strong.