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Responding to Negative Reviews on Amazon (and other channels)

March 1st, 2013 by Skip McGrath

Online reviews about your products and your business can grow legs. These may appear in various blogs, pages and even shared in different social media pages. If a review praises your business and say wonderful things about your products and services, then congratulations—you’re on your way to having more customers. But if a review is quite the opposite, then you have some serious work to do.

But before passionately clicking on your keyboards to make an “official response”, here are some things to remember about responding to negative reviews. When do you respond, and when do you ignore?

Respond, if:

  • You really did make a mistake. If you’ve mistakenly delivered the wrong product, wasn’t able to fulfil a promise to a customer, or if your online store didn’t function well on a particular day, then sincerely offer your apologies. Make amends with your disappointed client by admitting your mistake & promising to offer better products/services next time. You may also want to offer incentives or freebies to further appease the customer.
  • Facts are misstated. If a person leaves irate remarks which contain erroneous information (examples: complaints about a product which you aren’t selling; complaints about a commitment/promise that you didn’t make), then step in and correct the facts.
  • The reviewer has large social connections. Even if the complaint seems trivial or petty, if it’s written by an influential blogger, or by a person who has quite a number of Twitter followers, then it’s worth responding to. Even the tiniest issues, if brought out by a “big” person, could hurt your reputation. Learn how to identify your product/ business reviewers so that you can take actions accordingly.

Ignore, if:

  • When the person has a reputation of being irate all the time, at all business establishments. Do some research about the profile of your reviewer. If you see that he seems to be mad at almost everyone and everything, then do not waste your time trying to change his opinions. Unless, of course, he mentioned an incorrect information about your business.
  •   You are still very angry about the review. Nothing is more damaging than the words of an angry person. So if you know that anger is robbing you of any logic or reason at the moment, just let the review sit on its own. If you feel that a response has to be made immediately, then you can let your staff or somebody else answer.  I make it a practice to get a good night’s sleep before responding to a negative review that angers me.  The cooling off period brings back my rational self.  Never respond to an angry review with sarcasm or anger.  If you post a professional reply, it will make the other person look like the foolish one.
  • When logic tells you that responding may do more harm than good. As the business owner, your knowledge and experiences may have given you the capacity to know whether responding is worth your time, or not. Trust your reasoning and logic on this.

It is important to remember this rule of thumb: the best way to address negative reviews is to encourage your customers to leave reviews in the first place. This way, negative reviews can be balanced by positive reviews, and may give other people the chance to read more information and make their own personal decisions about your business/brand.

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