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4 mistakes to avoid when your business gets bashed online

Tom Kaneshige | Feb. 4, 2014
When your company's products or services get attacked on a social network or a customer review site, don't go with your first instinct. Instead of lashing out or ignoring it completely, take a measured response and avoid these common mistakes.

"It's natural to react emotionally, but you can't let that come through," Shek says. "Reacting negatively reflects even worse on your business than the initial negative review."

With a single, opinionated critical review — as in, "the lasagna was terrible" — you might not want to react at all, because there's not much to do anyway. With other critical reviews, a response should at the very least acknowledge the customer's frustration, as well as ways to fix the situation.

Mistake 3: Being Too Passive
As noted earlier, some companies will ignore negative customer reviews. But online reviews are the new customer surveys and comment cards. They're a form of feedback from your customers. Companies pay thousands of dollars for this kind of research. "Now customers are giving you this for free," Shek says. "You shouldn't ignore it just because you think it's unjust or exaggerated."

This doesn't necessarily mean you have to respond to every critical review. However, you should constantly check for patterns. For instance, if many customers are agreeing that the lasagna is terrible, then the you might want to make changes to the recipe.

Mistake 4: Making a Quick Fix
When reacting to a critical review, the initial outreach should be done offline, because online comments can get snippy. An offline conversation with the critical reviewer affords a chance to really understand the issue and work to resolve it.

This is much better than a blanket fix, such as immediately giving any critical reviewer a 30 percent discount on their next purchase. "You don't want to train consumers to complain in order to get discounts and free stuff," Shek says.

Once a resolution has been worked out, you can post the results online. "Whether or not you've made the customer happy, the fact that you were open and honest about the problem and tried to address it increases your reputation online."

A lot of times the critical reviewer will be appreciative of your efforts and, in turn, post a positive comment. That's how a bad review can be made into a great marketing message.

 

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