Crisis Management: Dealing with Bad Online Reviews

A huge number of consumers use online reviews to guide their purchasing decisions.  A few years ago, bad reviews weren’t a big deal.  The main review sites were separate communities such as Epinions, DooYoo and Ciao, which had large memberships but were not actually shopping sites in their own right.

Today, most shopping sites either have their own review system built in, or use TrustedReviews or Revoo to offer product ratings on their website.  This means that when customers go to purchase your product or service, they’ll see the review and star rating.  If you have more than one or two bad reviews you could be losing out on a lot of sales.

Repairing Your Reputation

A negative online review, or even a string of them, is not quite as serious a crisis as an outbreak of complaints or negative publicity on social media websites, but it is something that you should consider when building your crisis management plan.  If you respond decisively and correctly you can fix the issue.

The best thing to do is to respond to the person’s complaint.  Use the comment system on the review site to thank the reviewer for their comments, and ask them if they could contact you for resolution.  If they claim that they already have tried to resolve the problem, apologize for the failure of your support team and offer to handle the issue personally.  Make sure that you really do follow up and fix the problem, otherwise you’ll end up with an even worse PR crisis on your hands.

If the complaint can’t be resolved then take some time to respond to their issue, politely explaining your side of things and apologising for the issue.  Don’t get hostile, but don’t grovel either.  The original customer may be a lost cause, but your goal here is to make sure that other people who see the review know that your company’s support team cares about the quality of service that customers receive.

What Not To Do

You must resist the temptation to attempt to “burry” the negative review under a string of positive ones. Reviewing your own products (or paying someone to review your products for you) is bad form, and fake reviews are easy to spot.

Don’t get into an argument with reviewers in the comment’s section, either.  If you care about your products and your brand then it can be hurtful to see people complaining about them. Before you post something that you might regret, walk away from the computer and take a few moments to calm down. Consider hiring a PR person or a customer service worker who has a cool head and a way with words to talk to your customers for you.

Online reputation management is one of the most difficult forms of crisis management there is. Anything you write on the Internet can be copied, shared, printed and archived easily.  Don’t type something unless you are happy to have someone read it, with your name and brand against it, in ten years’ time.
About the author:

This post was written by Crispin Jones for Insignia Communications – experts in crisis management planning and training. Looking for more information? Have a look at their YouTube channel .

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