review

As the web grows larger and larger, more and more reviews are cropping up online, both positive and negative. If you’re involved with selling products or services, you need to know what people are saying about your brand, and you need to respond appropriately. Here are three tips for handling bad reviews.

Engage on Social Media

For direct communication with customers, make sure to open up accounts on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. If you want to engage with customers too, though, it isn’t enough to simply post educational content and updates about products or services.

One excellent way to start getting more “likes” and followers is to ask questions, suggests marketing expert Barry Feldman in a blog post. Along those lines, he recommends strategies such as posting polls and “test your knowledge” games, for instance. As an example, he points to a poll posted by Airbnb that asks people for their plans for spending a long weekend in January: lounging beachside, playing in the snow, exploring the city, or relaxing countryside.

Other ideas include requesting reviews, photos, and other expressions from customers; providing coupons and other incentives; making offers; and delivering utility in the form of useful content like videos, downloadable guides, and blogs. 

Monitor Reviews

It’s true that reviews of your product or service will sometimes appear on your social media pages, even if you haven’t requested those reviews. Yet reviews will also show up on many other types of websites, depending in part on what type of product or service you’re selling and where you’re selling it.

Your own website might have a section for reviews, and it should. If you’re selling on Amazon, your product or service will probably be reviewed and rated there. If you run a local business like a beauty salon or dental office, you might find reviews of your company on Yelp. Do you operate a hotel? Reviews will probably turn up on travel sites like Booking.com.

In fact, 79 percent of adult Internet users in the U.S. check online reviews somewhere before making a purchase or visiting a business, according to a survey by YouGov.com. Clearly, then, you need to monitor those reviews, but how can you find all of them? Companies like Channel Signal offer platforms for helping you to pull together reviews from major e-comm sites and comparing reviews of your own brand with those of your competitors. If you’d rather take a DIY approach, use Google on a regular basis to search your company name and see what reviews come to light.

Respond Directly to Accusations

If you come across a negative review, what should you do? Ignoring a review won’t make it go away, observes Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of the small business consulting and media company GrowBiz Media. The best course of action is to respond directly to accusations, in a public and transparent way.

Many reviews aren’t at all legitimate, anyway. Also according to YouGov.com, 21 percent of Americans who have left online reviews haven’t even bought or tried the products they’ve reviewed. Lots of other reviews are spurred by myth, not reality. If unfounded rumors have spread about your business, you need to defend your company by giving people the facts. Amway, for example, has addressed the question, “Is Amway a pyramid scheme?” with a thoughtful and inclusive article on the subject.

Conclusion

To do the best job of handling negative reviews, it’s very helpful to build a strong following on social media by engaging with current and potential customers. You can discover what people are saying about your company by monitoring your social media accounts and website as well as other sites where reviews may appear. If you do find any negative reviews, respond directly to accusations in a public and transparent way. If unfounded rumors have spread, it’s a great idea to post an article on your website that tells the real truth. You can then link to the article when replying to reviews on other sites.