Let’s face it! Not everybody likes you, and not everybody will like you regardless of how good, efficient or productive you are. Sadly online platforms and especially social media have given new means for the upsetting minority to be loud, and without the proper tackling, negative reviews can be detrimental to your business, or yourself on a personal level.

Having negative reviews in your personal life is inevitable. People are stalking your every move and are waiting patiently for that first mistep to jump in, doubt you, and bring you down. Don’t let it bother you. Take all constructive criticism, which is always welcomed, and the rest let it wash off. The naysayers cannot win unless you fuel them. (Handling personal negative feedback will be addressed in a future blog post)

If you are in any type of business, whether it is products or services, you can always expect the negative reviews. Oddly enough, the majority of happy customers won’t say anything, and only the ones that have something to complaint about will take it to the keyboard to share their “Horrific”, “Dramatic” experiences. Most of these reviews are plain ranting from people looking for their 5 minutes of social media fame.

It has always stayed with me, the first time when I got my first negative review for myself and the organisation I represent. A classical scenario of false facts, over dramatization, and just plain ranting. I was beyond overwhelmed with a feeling of injustice, and drowning. Now, five years down the line, we are at a steady 4.8/5 stars reviews on all social media platforms. Here is how we did it in 4 simple steps:

  1. Filter the text (separate the constructive criticism from the ranting)
  2. Always reply (never leave a negative review without a formal reply)
  3. Where applicable block/ban the user
  4. Get more positive reviews (ratio)

Step 1 is to always filter the negative review. You might find some useful information by reading between the lines. There is always room for improvement. Even in plain ranting, one can find some useful feedback.

Step 2 is to reply. Take your time when replying, and don’t rush. Be as professional in your reply as possible and do not drop to the level of the person who wrote the review. Always begin with a “Thank you for taking the time to review…”. The response doesn’t have to be lengthy, but rather clear, on point, and use facts. If you cannot be objective and formal, have someone else (copywriter) to do it for you. You are responding to that one person, but you also need to consider every one else who will take a second to read through. Once you reply, then let it be. Do not engage again even if there are follow up comments. The dust will settle sooner than you would expect, and life goes on.

Step 3 is the simplest. You can eliminate all follow up comments by this user by simply blocking them or banning them from your page (in the case of Facebook pages). People like that usually have a tendency to stick around and comment on your material, trying to reignite a fire. The principle is simple, and is based on real life. You don’t get to come to my house and run your mouth about me. Thank you for coming, but you are no longer welcomed here.

Step 4 is to set a target with your team. Drown the negative reviews with positive ones. Set a goal, and say that for every 1 bad review, we will try to get 20 positive ones. It’s not that hard to do. Promote and encourage people to leave a positive review online. Just ask customers to give a review or feedback of your services, or train your staff to seek that positive review (via a reward system for employees).

Unfortunately most businesses realize the importance of reviews as soon as the negative reviews come in, and then they are in a chase to get some good ones. This is like starting a 100 meter race, and you give the opponents a 3 seconds heads start! Get ahead from the beginning. Have a constant flow of positive reviews, and you will not have to bother with the negative ones, if and when they come your way.

Follow the simple 4 steps to not only make the most out of negative reviews, but also to get ahead. Lastly, always remember “You don’t get 500 million friends, without having a few enemies” (Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Founder).

I hope you have found this topic interesting and useful. What do you think about it? All feedback and comments are welcomed.

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