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    Overcome a Bad Online Review in 3 Easy Steps
    The Vault

    Overcome a Bad Online Review in 3 Easy Steps

    September 2016

    Each business is unique, but whether you’re a large multinational company or a Main Street storefront, one thing is certain: Bad reviews can cost you real money.

    Before 2004, yelp was that sound your dog made when you stepped on his paw.  Now, Yelp (with the capital Y), is the online review site that allows consumers to share reviews about businesses in mere seconds. It’s not alone.  Angie’s List, Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter...they all allow users to call specific attention to your company.  In an instant, a single person can start a trend, positive or negative, or address the world about your company.  For business owners, the amazing technology that has brought us together comes with a very frightening underside.  Positive online reviews do wonders for your business.  Negative ones lose customers.

    Try as you may, the reality is that you will have a negative review posted against you at some point. If not properly addressed, it will gain momentum -- quickly -- and cost you time and money.  And while you shouldn’t panic over every single customer complaint, you can’t ignore negative reviews either.  They must be addressed.  Here’s what we suggest:

      1. Determine if it’s even true.

        If someone posts a blatantly false a statement about your business (not just an opinion you disagree with), you have the right to ask for the comment to be removed or retracted. It’s tricky, because you’ll have to provide conclusive supporting evidence which shows, without a doubt, the comment is factually incorrect (absent a showing you’re out of luck).  But you do have some recourse if, for example, a competitor is just trying to spread malicious rumors about you.

        If you do have factual evidence and the site doesn't take down the negative statement or review, correct the post in the comments section. Lay out the conclusive facts in a professional manner. 
      2. Be honest, and don’t take it personally. 

        If the comment is factually true, but negative, present your side of the story right away in the comments, and be honest. Explain your rational in a non-hostile way and how you plan on addressing the situation.

        One of the best approaches I’ve seen, one I see large companies in particular take most often, is to try to take the conversation offline. This prevents a protracted back-and-forth.  Offer the customer your email address, and make sure that you (or a senior-level staff member) personally addresses the complaint.
        Whatever you do, never create a new persona (a fake username) to support your position in blogs, forums, and message boards.  It’s horribly dishonest and is disastrous for your reputation if you get caught. 

      3. Take a more proactive approach.The old adage is true: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Negative situations can be avoided (or at least substantially mitigated) by ensuring you are tuned into social media at all times, not just when there's an emergency. Work on building your social media presence so that your fans are proactively sharing their experiences and recommendations online.  There are a million strategies available to help you do this, and we urge you not to ignore them.  A sea of 5-star reviews will drown out one or two negative ones, significantly lessening the “emergency” of getting a bad review.

    One final note: Make sure everyone in your company is aware of reviews you’ve received, both positive and negative. This will help to ensure you prevent similar problems in the future, and also helps to build the customer-centric mindset among employees that is so critical for your success.

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