When you’re running a business, no matter how hard you try, you’re not going to be able to please everyone. Unfortunately these days, disgruntled customers are not only likely to tell their friends and colleagues about your business, there’s a good chance they will go online and tell the rest of the world while they’re at it.
Negative online feedback can be disastrous to any business and due to the permanency of the internet, once it’s there it can be very difficult to remove. If someone is searching for products or services like yours and they read a negative review or a social media post complaining about your business it’s likely they will look elsewhere. When you think about how many people turn first to the internet when they’re looking to research products and services, it’s easy to see how crippling even a few pieces of negative feedback could be.
Negative feedback doesn’t have to mean the demise of your business but it is essential that you don’t ignore it or stick your head in the sand. Monitoring what people are saying about you is crucial, so that you can respond to any customer complaints in a timely and effective way before too much damage is done.
Here are three suggestions for dealing with criticism directed at your business online:
- Don’t ignore complaints. Respond to negative feedback in a non-defensive way and take steps to resolve the problem or invite the person to discuss the matter further with you over the phone or via email. With the right approach you can even turn a negative situation into a win by demonstrating your excellent customer service skills and your commitment to quality.
- Never get into an argument online. Remember, anything aggressive or unpleasant you say will be immortalised for everyone to see. Getting angry or defensive about criticism can make you seem unprofessional at best, completely disreputable at worst. Even if the customer is wrong, show concern and offer to resolve the problem.
- Encourage plenty of positive reviews. You can increase the amount of positive feedback about your business by asking your happy customers or clients to review you or follow you on social media. You can further incentivise this process by offering entry into a contest in exchange for a review. If there are plenty of positive reviews, they can offset one or two negative ones.
If you find that you’re constantly in receipt of criticism and negative reviews online it may be time to look closely at your business. While the occasional negative review or piece of criticism is probably unavoidable, if it’s happening on a regular basis it could be a sign of a serious issue.
The best defence against negative online feedback is always going to be to provide a great product or service for your customers. If you do receive criticism online, knowing how to deal with it effectively can help you limit the damage to your reputation and your business so you can move forward confidently.
About the author:
Jo Macdermott is the Chief Marketing Consultant at Next Marketing in Melbourne. She has 15 years of marketing experience, is a Certified Practising Marketer and is a sought after marketing media commentator. Jo specialises in working with small and medium businesses. Follow her on Twitter here.