One concern that comes up a lot in my agency, especially from entrepreneurs who are debating breaking into the online world (namely social media), is the fear of negative reviews.
The truth is, you’re right. You ARE going to get a negative review at some point. I mean, Christ chose 12 disciples and even he didn’t get it perfect.
Human beings are silly creatures, and often petty as it gets. And at some point, someone is going to say you did them wrong.
Here’s the thing: if you AREN’T on social media because you want to avoid the negative reviews, you’re really only avoiding the opportunity to be a part of that conversation.
The review is STILL happening, but since you aren’t on, say, Facebook, they can’t even tell you about it, so they post it on their own Facebook and let all their friends read about their terrible experience—and this is all behind YOUR back because you weren’t there to own it and resolve it.
The goal of marketing is to be a part of the conversation your audience is having. The good, the bad, the ugly.
But reviews aren’t all that bad. In fact, a good negative review is a great opportunity to really shine. And handled correctly, you stand taller than before.
Of course, this takes a little skill, practice, wit, and strategy.
We have some clients who hire us just to write a powerful response to a negative review, but today I want to show you how to do it yourself 🙂
And of course, I’ll use myself as an example.
One of our companies, a laundromat I had just purchased, received a negative review.
A 2 star review, to be exact, spoiling the beautiful track record I was working so hard to build. And Facebook doesn’t allow you to delete them, and you wouldn’t want to! No one likes anything that’s “too perfect,” we all love a hero with a few scars because it shows they are human too.
Here’s what they said…
As an entrepreneur, that hurt my sensitive little heart!! But, I took a minute, let it go, took a few deep breaths, and jumped into my response. Here’s what I replied with…
What do you think? Talk about a turn-around.
Let’s dive into how to handle things.
1 • Never respond from a place of emotion. If you’re hurt, insulted, frustrated, or anything but calm and thoughtful, don’t respond. Take a deep breath, go for a walk, think about the long term strategy and effect of what you want to say.
2 • Use the right “reaction” to their review. A simple “like” might do, but I prefer to use the SAD emoji (see the review above). It really sucks the anger out of it, and visually shows you’re sad, hurt, and teary. It puts real human emotion into a conversation medium that’s often devoid of feelings.
3 • Show that someone from the C-Suite has taken the time to answer. Ideally, that’s the owner, but if not possible, go as high possible. And always write in first person, none of this “we” crap. Own it.
4 • Acknowledge, using everyday English, their review, and make sure they know you appreciate it. DO NOT USE FANCY, CORPORATE FAKE-APOLOGY SPEAK! “We sincerely apologize for your inconvenience.” Blah! Garbage, all that says is, “We don’t give a shit, but here’s what our PR department says we have to say.”
5 • Stand out from the crowd. I do this by reminding them we’re a local business, and they mean a lot to us (“more than just a number”). Everyone likes to know they are being heard.
6 • OWN IT. If you messed up, in any way, shape, or form, even just by not making something clear, don’t defend it; own it. No excuses. Take it like a real entrepreneur.
7 • Promise to resolve it, and be descriptive as to how. Let them know you’ll personally handle it, fix it, change something, etc.
8 • I still made sure to help her realize, in a kind and caring way, that she might be the one who screwed up by giving her a comparable situation where how we do things is the right way. I also made sure to bring up the fact that the coupon I have on hand doesn’t say one per visit, it says one per client, (as opposed to what she said) and included a copy of the coupon (this is to SHOW everyone else who reads the review!). But, I made sure to note that maybe she got a bad version, and I would make sure that version was not used anymore.
9 • I gave her a cheesy “life lesson” about not being able to change the past, something very relatable, but also a chance to fix the future.
10 • I offered something above what I needed to, like a free coffee. People aren’t expecting you to give away the farm; they just want to know you care, and this gesture was all I needed.
11 • Lastly, I tagged myself PERSONALLY, so she can emotionally confirm that I wasn’t just letting staff talk for me, I was there personally responding.
After all that, what was the result?
Well, as you can see, it worked perfectly. Not only did she “heart” my response (imagine getting a heart reaction to a negative review rebuttal!), but she gave me a happy response, and returned that very night to use our services.
I then “hearted” her response, and replied with a quick thank you, and told her it makes me happy—something real people say.
I know what you’re thinking… “It’s not always so easy. What if I did nothing wrong and they’re complete idiots!!??” Granted, this was an easy one, but the strategy remains the same.
The truth is, good “wordsmanship” can go a long way, and jumping the gun and responding out of anger is always the wrong way to deal with it. Just remember what your mom always said: Take the high road!
If you’ve got a tricky one, send it my way. I’m always up for a good challenge 🙂
To your success,
PS – One quick side note…. don’t let them walk all over you, you aren’t a doormat.
CEO RYS Group
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RYS Group Inc.
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