If you are concerned about getting negative reviews about your product or service online through sites such as Yelp, or lesser known niche sites that cover your industry, here’s what you need to know:
1. Don’t be defensive when replying to the review. That might further antagonize the reviewer and come across negatively to the public.
2. Don’t belittle the reviewer. Keep your reply neutral or positive.
3. Be transparent
4. Be honest and open
5. Be apologetic and try to “make good”
6. Correct mistatements
7. Encourage your customer advocates to reply on your behalf – this is far more powerful than replying yourself
8. Call out the customer. If the post was anonymous, in your reply you can say, “Customer X, if you would simply call us, we can correct the situation very easily for you, and would be happy to do so.”
9. It gets a little risky, so I would suggest avoiding this, but sometimes anonymous negative reviews could have been posted by your competitors. So you can call those out, but be careful… you may come across as defensive and vengeful.
The bottom line is that you cannot prevent negative reviews entirely. In fact, as your customer base grows, you may invariably begin to acquire some unhappy folks.
Until customer review sites require validation of purchase or services rendered, and validation of identity, negative reviews will continue to hide behind the shroud of anonymity.
Here’s an interesting legal case with regards to a site that is working on preventing patients from posting reviews about doctors. It is currently being challenged in the courts.