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How to Bounce Back from a Bad Reputation

Sinoun Chea

If you already own an online business, you are probably aware of the fact that your reputation is extremely important if you want to ensure its continuity and to attract more customers in the long run. Your reputation is usually influenced by the reviews people leave on your website, sharing their experiences, whether they are good or bad. Studies show that almost 7 out of every 10 customers will choose you over a competitor if they see that you have an excellent reputation with plenty of good reviews and almost half of the online consumers choose to buy from companies which have an average rating of four stars out of five.

It goes without saying that fighting to get positive reviews in an organic manner should be a priority for your business. However, what if you got a couple of negative reviews which seriously impact your average score? Keep reading this article to learn how to rejuvenate your business and bring it back to life. Here are a few things you can learn today:

  • Learning how to treat negative reviews as a way to improve your business
  • Monitor your customer review profile on various websites to discover when your reputation went down and why
  • Learning to focus on recent reviews as most customers do not look at opinions which are older than approximately three months

It happens to a lot of companies: they suddenly get inundated with bad reviews from angry customers and in many cases, these reviews are actually genuine. Poor customer service or a serious fault in a particular product might make multiple consumers come back to you and post a negative review which can drastically damage your reputation (and trustworthiness), making you wonder how you can recover after such a mistake.

Well, getting back on track is not a quick fix, you just have to take a deep breath and prepare your recovering strategy carefully. There are tips and tricks you can take advantage of to rebuild your reputation and make your company stand out from the crowd again.

Showcase your products and services only when you’re absolutely sure you’ll get positive reviews

Before finding out how to deal with negative reviews, let’s find out how to prevent them. There are several important review platforms such as Google My Business and Facebook. These are some of the most popular ones and the Google platform even shows reviews in search results. If your business is relatively new and you don’t want to test the waters publicly, try to hold off on putting your business on these review platforms. Once you see that clients are generally ok with your services, make your business available on Google and Facebook.

If you have made a mistake and you see that you get tons of negative reviews, try to disable the Facebook review tools until you get back on track. By doing so, you are basically limiting the number of negative reviews you get, but you still have to fix the problem which brought them in the first place. This is a temporary solution, but highly useful nevertheless.

Monitor review platforms to know exactly your reputation status

There are numerous places where you can submit your name, address and phone number (NAP), so that people can leave reviews about your business and generally bring you more exposure. However, don’t just send your NAP to Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor and other platforms and forget about it. Make sure that you closely monitor these platforms to know exactly how people are responding to your services and products. If one of those platforms accumulates a lot of negative reviews, investigate the problem quickly and see what caused it.

Take advantage of professional services to monitor your online reputation

If you have recently started your business and you get a couple of reviews each week, you might not need someone else to help you monitor them. However, if things got big and you deal with plenty of reviews each week, it is a good idea to ask for help in regards to the management process. This can be done by asking one of your employees to keep track of the new reviews which come every day or using professional online services such as Google Alerts, Reputology, etc. These tools will basically let you know immediately if you have received one or more negative reviews so you can address them quickly.

Why is it a good idea to address negative reviews quickly? Well, they can mount up if you don’t intervene as soon as possible and in no time, you’ll discover that people are flooding your customer review profile with negative comments you could have prevented if you took care of this problem immediately. Don’t let this snowball effect work against you. Use the aforementioned tools to monitor the places where you receive reviews and act as soon as possible if some negative reviews appear.

Learn from negative reviews

Granted, some reviews might contain offensive words or do not offer constructive criticism at all. Some of these can be flagged and Google will eventually eliminate them from your customer review profile. However, many negative reviews can also be extremely educational for you. In other words, make sure that you carefully read what the customers are complaining about and see if they are actually right. Dealing with negative reviews in a positive manner is always the best option. Maybe some of your salespersons weren’t sufficiently polite to the customers. Maybe there is a serious problem with one of the products you sell. Maybe the shipping company you use is not taking its job seriously which in turn affects the customers in an indirect manner.

The bottom line is to make sure that you do your homework when you see negative reviews. These can be great opportunities to learn exactly what your customers want. After you address the problem, your clientele might notice this and they will become loyal to you because you show that you care about their opinions and experiences.

Deal with multiple negative results in a professional way

It might happen sometimes for various companies to have an excellent Google rating such as 4.5 or 4.6 stars out of 5. All of a sudden, in just 24 or 48 hours, the average rating drops to approximately 3 stars out of 5. This is definitely a big problem which is worth investigating as it can render the company unable to attract more customers. Remember that most clients buy from companies which have a rating of at least 4 stars.

Why can this sudden influx of bad reviews happen? Well, it might be because one of your unsatisfied customers wants revenge and he asks all his family members and friends to bombard you with negative reviews. It might also happen that one of your competitors is paying people to post negative reviews on your website to take you out of the market. Lastly, bad advertising can also trigger a flood of negative comments from various people.

Although this is an extreme scenario and undesired by anyone, you can still fight back and attempt to recover your reputation, especially if you think that most of these negative reviews are fake. The first thing you should do is to contact the review platform customer service personnel and inform them about the unfair avalanche of negative reviews. They can work with you to determine whether these negative comments come from real customers or just malevolent people who want to do harm to your business. Hopefully, by identifying the name of the authors and the date when the review has been posted, some or all of these negative reviews can be removed. Fake reviews is not a new thing this these as up to 80% of consumers have read at least one such review and up to 25% of them know how to identify fake reviews on a regular basis.

Don’t ignore negative reviews

Although it is not the easiest thing in the world to deal with bad comments and negative reviews, ignoring them is even worse as it makes your customers believe that you don’t care about their opinions. When you do receive a flux of negative reviews, take the time to respond to them carefully. First of all, you need to avoid copy-paste answers and focus to really understand the customer and try to help him. By responding professionally, you show that you care and you want the customer to have a better experience. Not only that the review author might appreciate this, but since the reviews are public, others will also see your calm response and think highly of you.

When dealing with a negative review, you can also apologize if you see fit and try to direct the customer to a phone number or email address he can use to receive proper customer support. You might also want to offer refunds or parts replacement if necessary, especially if the product you sold was defective from the start. In any case, by responding professionally, you have the higher moral ground and you are on the right path towards improving your reputation.

Try to focus on the positive reviews

Remember that even if you get a couple of bad reviews which drastically reduce your average rating, by receiving positive reviews again, your score will improve. It is that simple! Therefore, make sure that you do your best to also focus on getting positive reviews, not on just dealing with the old, negative ones. By the way, speaking of old reviews, keep in mind that most customers don’t pay attention to reviews posted one year ago or even a couple of months ago, whether they have been good or bad. Consumers always make decisions based on fresh information, so if you get regular positive reviews, you’re on the right track to success.

Do not exaggerate if you get bad reviews

It is important to note here that having a couple of negative reviews here and there will actually make your profile look more authentic, as opposed to flashing a 5-start profile with hundreds of positive reviews. People don’t believe in Santa Claus anymore, so if it looks too be good to be true, it probably isn’t. Therefore, a few negative reviews will make your business look grounded and potential customers will trust you more.

In any case, make sure that you don’t overreact if you get negative reviews by changing the name of your business, your logo or creating other profiles on review platforms. Do your best to minimize damage, do your homework if the clients were right and you’ll be ok.

Have patience

Building back a solid reputation isn’t a quick task, as mentioned earlier. You have to work hard, but it is totally worth it. Have patience in the process and try to keep an eye on negative reviews while responding to your customers and trying to help them in any way possible. Slowly but surely, many companies have completely recovered after a turbulent period full of criticism from the customers (take the case of Samsung after the Note 7 flop), so you can do it as well. Good luck!

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Sinoun Chea

I help small businesses Do Better Online™. When businesses thrive, people also thrive. #morethanjustbusiness

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