We’ve talked before about how getting more social media reviews is great for your brand and can lead to valuable social proof – and more sales. But we haven’t talked much about what to do when you get negative reviews, especially if negative reviews have mounted up over time and don’t show a very great (or accurate) view of your company. These negative reviews are important! A 2017 study showed that 88% of consumers pay attention to negative reviews on social media, and you can bet that professional buyers follow similar trends.

So, what should you do when your online reputation doesn’t look that great? We’ve got the right steps to help you deal with these issues.


Acknowledge Legitimate Complaints and Try to Help

Start with a process to deal with negative reviews and complaints. Typically, a good process starts with tracking all your reviews and filtering out the nonsense reviews – the feedback that doesn’t communicate anything understandable, or is clearly malicious/incorrect. Save time by ignoring these reviews, at least for the moment.

All the other negative feedback, no matter how petty, deserves some attention. Acknowledge this feedback, thanking the poster for their response, and ask if there is anything else you can do to help. A simple, “I’m sorry to hear that. Can you be more specific so we can find a solution that works for you? Contact us here.” takes only seconds to post, and can lead to a lot of valuable communication. Ultimately, people may even reverse poor reviews if you can help them out.

Over time, you can also start seeing patterns of complaints where it’s clear that people aren’t using a product or service correctly, or not seeing a particular option that would fix their problem. In these cases, it’s important to offer more specific advice to reviewers: Link to a video guide or post that specifically describes a solution to their issue. Larger companies may want to delegate responses to specialists in charge of that area, while smaller companies may want to assign a person to specialize in reviews and review responses, often called a “reputation manager.” This also ensures that reviews get answered quickly, which is a key factor in getting good results!


Remove Fake Reviews

You can report the ridiculous reviews to social platforms for further review and removal. This is a good idea, especially if you got spammed with nonsense negative reviews, because customers are very sensitive to your overall review score on social media (less than four stars, and you will struggle to attract as much as attention). Facebook has clear instructions on how to report its “Recommendations” and Google does the same for fake Google Reviews. Weed out the outliers with these steps. Generally, if a review is in good faith – no matter how negative – it’s better to leave it up and try to deal with the review professionally rather than try to get it removed.


Move to a Private Channel

This is common advice for dealing with complaints, and for good reason: You don’t want to air all the dirty laundry and specific details of a problem on social media. When acknowledge and offering assistance, always provide a new contact option to move the conversation to a chat box, email, phone call, or other private option.


Take Responsibility for Errors with Gifts and Discounts

Apologies and respect are nice, but they’re also just words. Upset buyers aren’t likely to put a lot of value in words – but they will still respect actions. One of the most effective actions that you can take is to 1) acknowledge the error or poor service and 2) offer something in return. This could a gift, a discount, free product samples, special offers, or something similar that you don’t offer to the average customer. Don’t think of this as a bribe: It’s a replacement for lost time and money due to the problems that you are addressing. This makes it much more likely that reviewers will have a change of heart, or at least continue to do business with you!


Gather Long Term Feedback and Make Changes

Over time, a reputation manager will be able to spot continuing issues that yield frequent complaints, bad reviews, and misunderstandings. It’s important to create reports that identify these issues, so that the brand can make important changes. These changes often include:

  • New customer service tactics: If buyers are frequently reporting a poor in-person experience, this is best addressed with pinpointing customer service issues and using new training and guidelines to remove the problem.
  • Logistics Changes: If complaints are centered are a particular process – shipping issues, for example – then it’s time to look at your logistics and make changes. If a particularly vendor you use is causing problems, find another!
  • Better Web Navigation: If people can’t find the right products or explanations on your website, you need to take a look at your navigation and improve your web experience!
  • Clearer Language: Sometimes people stumble over a particular explanation, misconstruing what it means. If this starts happening often, rewrite that explanation and use additional media (visual, especially) to make it very clear what is happening or what is required.
  • More Ads: If people seem unaware of a service or solution that you offer, consider creating more specific ads to advertise that part of your business so people understand it’s there.


The Future Is More Important Than the Past

This isn’t just an aphorism – it’s really true. Around 40% of consumers only take into account reviews written in the past two weeks, a number that has grown very quickly in recent years. A key part of your review strategy should always be to encourage more good reviews for the future.