So, you’ve gotten a terrible review from a disgruntled customer and are scared of the repercussions.  Now what?

Thanks to social media and open review sites such a Yelp, Trip Adviser, or even retail platforms such as Amazon, it’s easy for business owners to fear the effects of a negative review. Negative reviews can be a strong deterrent for new costumers, even more so when a negative review manages to amass a large amount of unwanted attention.  Not all hope is lost, though.

Take for example the case of sugar free Haribo gummy bears.  The sugar substitute of choice has given more than one costumer serious digestive issues. Here are some of the most terrifying Amazon reviews we’ve ever seen:

Bad Testimonial

Despite the more than 200 horror stories and mentions of chaos in important publications such as Business Insider, Haribo’s Sugar Free “Hellbears” have managed to maintain a solid rating of three stars on Amazon.

 

Horrible Testimonial

and

The Worst Testimonial

 

This product has effectively turned its negative feedback into astonishingly positive results and we know how.

Here are 15 ways to turn negative reviews into positive results.

1. Prevention is key (think ahead)

Whether you are selling a product or offering a service, it is important to provide your customers with as much information as possible. Many negative reviews are the result of lack of information in a customer’s part and could have easily been avoided if information were easily available. How were Haribo’s customers to know about the digestive effects of lycasin in their gummy bears? What is lycasin to begin with?

2. Know it is impossible to please everyone.

Haribo’s gummy bears carry a label warning users about digestive discomfort. Still, many customers left negative reviews and this can happen to anyone. The fact of the matter is this: likes, dislikes, and the accompanying opinions are subjective. No matter how much information you provide or how smoothly you operate, someone will be unhappy. Just do your best.

3. Do not panic.

Take a deep breath; negative feedback is a part of life.  Relax and remember it’s not the end of the world. Nothing great was built in one day and success involves a few bumps on the road.

4. Focus on your goals.

What are you trying to provide? Whether it’s sugar free candy or tech support, it is important to stay true to your objectives as both a business and an individual. When receiving negative reviews, the urge to micromanage or enact drastic changes can be self-destructive. Isolate the issues at hand, but do not allow them to consume you and skew your ideals.

5. Do your research.

Before you reply to the negative review in question, do your research.  Read it, circulate it around the company, and ask questions. Try to think of the circumstances and reasons this review was given in order to prepare a response.

6.  Give a timely response.

Timing is key. The faster a negative review is addressed, the more manageable the discussion.  Make information available, clear up any possible misunderstandings, and reply to any initial inquiries. A negative review can quickly be turned around with a quick response. Effective customer service shows professionalism and integrity.

7. Listen to understand.

Some customer reviews are more manageable than others and some clients are more willing to cooperate than others. After establishing initial contact, do not be alarmed if the response is not as warm as you expected. Simply listen, do not judge and most importantly do not ignore the client’s needs. Ignoring a negative review does not make it go away; it only makes things worse.

8. Ask, ask, ask.

This is where the learning experience begins. Ask open-ended questions such as, “What would you like us to do?” or “Why do you think _____ did not work for you?” Asking for specifics will help you understand the feedback clearly.

9. Take Responsibility.

You’ve kept your goals in mind, provided customers with information and listened attentively. While trying to clear up any misunderstanding or trying to understand what caused the negative review, it is important that you are accountable for your thoughts and actions.  Don’t look for excuses, and don’t be afraid to admit you are at fault.  The more accountable you are for your thoughts and actions, the more credible you are. and the more likely people will want to do business with you in the future.

10. Remember loyal customers are responsive.

Customers who bought the cursed gummy bears did so under the promise that despite being sugar free, taste and quality would not be compromised. These were loyal customers who received a shock and openly voiced their opinion. It is the same for every other business. If a client has taken time out of their busy schedules to leave a negative review, chances are this customer is in that situation. Turn a negative review into a positive by reminding them what it is that made them choose you in the first place.

11. Solve the problem.

It’s as simple as that. When a grievance is legitimate, all you have to do is solve the problem. Upgrade shipping, skip to the front of the line, and send a new product. You’ve heard the grievance; now fix it.

12. Learn from the process.

It is difficult to keep track of everything. Negative reviews help business owners spot the few missing links in their system. This is one of the greatest things about negative feedback. Pay attention, make the necessary changes and use it as a chance to improve. Clients will notice and will appreciate an enterprise that is willing to adapt to their needs.  Acknowledge the changes you’ve made and how you got there. With negative feedback comes great progress.

13. Be appreciative.

The bottom line is that by leaving a negative review, the client is doing you a favor. You are being given a chance to improve, and you’re being shown a weak point and a chance to excel at customer service, whether or not the review is justified. Letting someone know they’ve forced you to make changes can go a long way in cementing long-term support for you and your company

14. Find the silver lining.

Imagine a world without negative feedback. You would have no way of knowing how to improve and a complete lack of clientele interaction. No matter how terrible a review, or how difficult the customer, think of the rewards that come with staying positive. Sometimes merely accepting your shortcomings and doing the best with what you have is enough. Sure, this isn’t the type of candy you can pass out during Halloween, but it’s definitely a great alternative to mineral oil for a parent with a stubborn child. Get creative!

15. Treat yourself.

Hearing negative feedback or getting a bad review can be stressful. Once the issue has been dealt with and you and your team have turned it into a learning experience, treat yourselves. Plan something small to help not only your morale, but also that of your team. Turn negative feedback and crisis management into a positive so that in the future you’ll be able to reap even more positive results.

Bree Gotsdiner the Founder of Publicly Related and a professor at the University of Central Florida recently authored a book on reputation management (Sex, Lies and Your Reputation). When we asked “What is the most important thing a small business should do to remain aware of their online reputation?” she mentioned “Tracking is the most important factor for your online reputation. I often meet with business owners that have had negative reviews that may have siphoned thousands of potential dollars from their business that they never knew about. It is essential that you are aware of your reviews and reputation and are active when responding.

Have you ever left a negative review? If so, how do you feel the business handled it?

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