Be Negative: Using Negative Reviews for Your Brand

Hummingbird CreativeBranding & Creative

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Negative Online Reviews, How They Work And How To Use Them

Other people’s personal experiences with a business or product have clearly become a trusted source of information for would-be customers. With 60 percent of people looking at online reviews during the research phase and 93 percent of those people saying reviews do affect their purchasing decisions, negative reviews can be a powerful detractor or ally for your brand. If a customer comes across your brand online and sees customers praising your brand, that’s great! However, if your online reputation isn’t that great (or you’re just starting out), don’t despair! Look at this as an opportunity that can benefit your brand. How can you use negative reviews to better your brand? Read these three ways to make negative reviews work for you and your brand.

Proactively Monitor Social Networks And Review Sites For Negative Reviews

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There are a ton of social network platforms and review sites that your customers can leave a review on. How do you know where to look? According to a 2013 study done by Marketing Week, only one third of big-name companies actually have a social media team or person dedicated to scouring the Internet, looking for negative reviews. If the big guys are having problems finding all the negative reviews, these reviews can go unnoticed by a small business pretty easily.

There’s a few tools small businesses can employee to watch their online presence:

  • Social Mention– With Social Mention, just type in your brand’s name and click search to see your likes and mentions. You can even sort by time frame and source. Social Mention can even analyze the language used to find your brand’s strengths, the passion behind the posting (find the unhappiest customers quicker), the sentiment (positive or negative) and the reach. Best part? Social Mention is free.
  • Mention– Mention is slowly replacing Google Alerts. It helps your brand separate general Internet chatter with the content you actually want to see. This tool can do a simple search or send you an aggregated email of mentions from the previous day.

Respond As Quickly As Possible To Negative Reviews (But Not Too Quickly)

If there’s the option to reply to a review, take it. But first, take a moment to think out a rational and customer service-friendly response that won’t alienate other potential customers. The goal is to gain business by responding, not lose business. Don’t try to make excuses and definitely don’t accuse the reviewer of lying about their experience.

Instead, apologize and tell them that if this happened, it’s not the normal. Then, take action. Taking action doesn’t have to be as drastic as firing an employee or removing a particular dish from the menu. It can be as simple as offering a free stay, free appetizer, gift cards and coupons, or whatever you think is appropriate.

Of course, there are a few people who try to game the system when they find out negative reviews get free stuff. How can you protect your brand from this kind of people? Tell them to call and ask for you. When they call, ask them to go into more detail and trust but verify. If they say a particular employee was working that day, check the schedule. If they claim they ordered the soup of the day, check to see what soup was actually the soup of the day. Even if your customer doesn’t take you up on your offer, having this offer online will show other potential customers you care and are willing to do what it takes to make things right.

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3 templates to respond to negative reviews

  • Acknowledge and log for the future

    “We’re sorry you had this experience with our business. We strive to give our customers the best experience we possibly can. Thank you for bringing this to our attention, we will be discussing this with our team members to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone in the future.”

  • Have management reach out

    Hi, my name is [NAME] and I am the manager/owner/etc. at [BUSINESS]. We try to maintain the highest standards of service but clearly that was not what has happened here. I am sorry to hear what happened. Unfortunately, I was not in at the time. Please give me a call at [NUMBER] at your earliest convenience. I would like to find out what I can do to win back your business.”

  • Acknowledge and investigate

    “We want to apologize for your negative experience in our store/office/etc., and we would like to learn a little more about your situation. Please give us a call at [NUMBER]. We look forward to hearing from you and earning back your business.”

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Make It Easy For Frustrated Customers To Get In Touch

Many customers will turn to Google or Twitter if they feel as if they’ve been given the run-around using traditional means. Other companies make it so difficult for customers to get into contact with them that those frustrated customers have to turn to more public means to have their concerns noticed. Take a look at your brand’s customer service. Do you have a confusing phone menu system? Listening to a jumbled collection of prompts and options can leave customers frustrated and navigating towards Yelp. Hearing the phrase “Please listen carefully as our menu options have changed” can feel like an irritating time waster because how many customers can actually remember what the original options were? These are a common and exasperating experience many customers go through just trying to right a wrong. Phone tree systems should be reviewed regularly, if your brand employees one. Ideally, a customer should be able to reach the right person without having to listen to automated prompts and choose vague menu options. While not always possible, keeping the system simple and straightforward will make the experience slightly more pleasant. Extended hold times are another frustrating aspect of trying to deal with customer service. Your customers have already navigated through the tricky phone tree system and now they’re stuck listening to strange jazz-like music with no end in sight. This clearly represents a lack of respect for customers’ time. There are callback options that give the customer the choice to receive a callback at a time that’s convenient for them as opposed to simply waiting on hold. When a customer finally gets through to someone, that person needs to be qualified to deal with their issues rather than just read from a script. If a person can easily reach the right person and work to find a solution for their problems (and some actually just want to vent), they’re less likely to write negative reviews.
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