How to handle negative reviews

Make sure you know what the public says about you and turn it to your advantage. Image: Traffic Jam by nabeelsyed at Life of Pix

How to handle negative reviews

The internet is a double-edged sword for small and medium businesses. Your online reputation can potentially make or break your business. While it’s great that customers can post good reviews of your service or products, what happens when they’ve not had a good experience? Handling negative reviews well can actually make them worth more than the positive ones — the trick is to handle them correctly. So, how do you do that?

Common automotive business complaints

Take a look at reviews on your own site and on those of your competitors. It’s worth being familiar with the kinds of things customers balk at. When you know what the complaints are, you can try to prevent them. Issues such as poor product quality, warranties not being honored and difficulties speaking to someone who will take a complaint seriously are all likely to generate a bad review. Ideally, any complaint will be dealt with swiftly and with the least amount of hassle for a customer. Start looking here and here to get an idea of the things your clients just won’t stand for when they buy tires.

Monitor your online presence

If a negative review is posted online and you’re not there to see it, you could be losing business without even knowing. Make sure you’re familiar with websites people use to post reviews like Yelp, Google Places and social media as well as your own website. There are programs out there specifically designed to help the U.S. tire industry monitor reviews. TirewebLocal automatically notifies tire dealers of reviews across all major sites, giving you the ability to share and respond.

Respond immediately

A negative review won’t just go away. The longer that review stays there with no response, the more it looks like you don’t care about the customer experience you offer. Responding quickly makes it clear you’re sincere about wanting to solve the problem — or at least learn from a bad customer experience.

Be polite

There is no point being defensive. Being polite and respectful in response to a complaint makes you look professional and more sincere. Even if a customer is angry, they will quickly calm down if they see that you are taking their concern seriously.

Take it offline

Initially, respond to the complaint publicly so other customers can see you’re dealing with it. Then take it offline to get to the bottom of it. Call the customer, send them an email, or ask them to get in touch with you directly. Firstly, it means you can talk specifics without violating anyone’s privacy. Secondly, you don’t want review websites cluttered up with a long thread about problems – save that space for more positive reviews.

Understand the platform’s policies

Review websites like Yelp have their own policies and algorithms that determine which reviews are posted. It’s important you familiarize yourself with them. If you can prove a negative review has been posted by a competitor, Yelp will remove it. Some positive reviews can also be hidden from view for not meeting the website’s standards, but you can still let potential customers know about them. Here’s a case study of a business doing just that.

Ask clients to remove misleading reviews

If a client has posted something truly defamatory or misleading, you’re within your rights to ask them to remove it. Explain why you’re making that request and make sure you have a good reason. It also would be worth inviting them to speak to you in person or offline to resolve the issue. But you don’t have to stand for defamatory reviews, especially when you’re willing to deal with the problem.

Share reviews with your team

It’s worth making sure your whole team is on board with your response to complaints. It will reduce the risk of them getting defensive in response to negative reviews. It’ll also make them more customer-oriented and understand what expectations your clients hold.

Negative reviews aren’t all bad

Finally, it’s worth recognizing that provided they’re dealt with promptly and professionally, negative reviews aren’t all that bad for your business. Firstly, it makes the body of reviews your business receives look more genuine. It also makes it clear that you’re listening to customers. Everyone makes mistakes, even business owners, but being prepared to right wrongs earns your business respect. And that goes a long way.

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