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Fantastic advice on dealing with negative reviews

AMA Shift has a great article on how to respond when you’re criticized on Yelp. (Definitely subscribe to their really well-written newsletter.)

Respond to Yelp critics with patience and restraint

Negative reviews on social media can hurt, and the temptation is to hit back—hard. But that isn’t a smart idea, just as angry responses to customers in real life rarely end well. How can businesses learn to respond—and what’s the secret to succeeding on social media like Yelp?

Rebecca Greenfield at Atlantic Wire has some great ideas for how to handle negative comments on social media. One restaurant put a critic’s harsh words about a meatball sandwich on a sign; another immortalized a greasy pizza on a T-shirt. She’s writing about Yelp, the site that helps customers find local businesses that are well-reviewed and in the neighborhood, especially restaurants, but the wisdom applies elsewhere in the virtual and real worlds.

“Yelp, like all Internet forums, draws some insidious awful voices, which can present particular problems for businesses trying to solicit customers,” says Greenfield. “The way Yelp works, these businesses can’t remove comments, even of the most trollish sort, because that would ruin Yelp’s whole set-up. Yelp wants to act as an accurate portrayal of local businesses, after all. The review site does, however, have a filter, which gets rid of the top-shelf garbage. But not all bad reviews constitute spam. And sometimes, a bad burger deserves a rant.”

Yelp itself has some suggestions. “Keep these three things in mind as you’re crafting a message to your customer:

1. Your reviewers are your paying customers
2. Your reviewers are human beings with (sometimes unpredictable) feelings and sensitivities
3. Your reviewers are vocal and opinionated (otherwise they would not be writing reviews!)”

So how to respond when someone tells you he or she never had a worse meatball sandwich? “The good news is that by contacting your reviewer and establishing a genuine human relationship, you have a chance to help the situation and maybe even change this customer’s perspective for the better. We’ve heard lots of success stories from business owners who were polite to their reviewers and were accordingly given a second chance.

… We all depend on reputation, and many of us have taken years building it up in the real world. A little thought and education can ensure we keep it in the online world—and don’t blow it in five seconds of undirected anger.

Read the full article here.

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Comments

  1. Steven September 3, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    I agree with a lot of what is said in this, and other posts. I think there is a strong temptation for business owners to go on the defensive when they see a negative review, the worst thing they could do though is get confrontational on a public forum. I always recommend a calm approach, try to contact the reviewer and put things right if possible, if there is a genuine grievance own up to it and show that, as a company, you will do whatever it takes to right the wrong.

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