September 8, 2011

One of the facts of the Internet is that it has made communication between consumers more prevalent than ever.  There are now a range of online sites that are there only to review businesses.  Businesses that don’t have an online presence can be affected without even realising it.  Before making a large purchase or booking a restaurant or hotel for a special evening, consumers have started looking for online reviews.  Businesses that aren’t online have no way to react to that type of customer communication, whether positive or negative.  It is important for businesses to monitor what is said online about their companies.  Here are some basic strategies for responding to online criticism.


Search Regularly

If you don’t know that someone has written a negative review, you can’t pursue resolution methods.  It is important to regularly run searches for mentions of your business name.  You should also check all the most common review sites to ensure that no negative feedback has been left.  All the positive feedback in the world can have less effect than one coherent negative comment.   There are online monitoring services available for businesses that don’t have the capacity to monitor internally.  A business owner should consider a subscription if they are not able to maintain monitoring.

Respond to Negative Feedback

It is inevitable that there will be customers that were unhappy with a product or service at some point.  No matter how good your customer service is, there are difficult customers that can be impossible to please.  When those customers leave negative feedback about your company it is important to address it in the same forum.  After you have responded, it is critical to remove the resolution from a public forum.  Keep further contact out of the public eye.  Email, phone or in person communications are better at this point.  If your company and the unhappy customer reach a positive solution, go back to the original negative feedback and post the happy outcome.   Encourage the newly satisfied customer to do the same.

Never Get Involved in a Flame War

No matter how good your company is, there will always be people that complain.  Responding in a caring and professional manner is the only option for online criticism.  If you have already made the resolution efforts available and the customer is still not satisfied, at least other customers will see that your company cares enough to respond.  Always respond calmly and professionally, and never inject additional tension into the situation.

Make your business the best it can be and you will see that negative criticism is relatively rare.  As long as you run a clean, honest establishment that puts customers first, you will find that the positive reviews will far out weigh the negative.



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