Bad reviews can not only be disheartening, they can pose a real threat to the success of your business. More than ever, consumers are seeking out online reviews before they purchase products or invest in services, so it’s important that your business has a good online reputation. So what happens when a customer leaves a bad review? Here’s how to manage your public relations in three easy steps.

Take a deep breath and step back

When you’ve invested money, time and love into your company, it can be devastating when somebody voices a particularly negative opinion. Beyond that, it can be infuriating. Resist the temptation to shoot back an inflammatory reply. Remember that you can’t please everybody, and if you feel that the review is unfair, it may well be that it’s just that – anything could have affected the negative response, from simply a bad day to unrealistic expectations.

Or it may well be that your service or product simply wasn’t up to scratch. This may be a bitter pill to swallow, but consider it an opportunity to look at future improvements. Whatever you gain from the bad review, consider it public relations rule number one to never reply when angry and avoid accusations – it doesn’t make you appear professional, and it may leave you worse off in the long run.

Consider how you should reply 

Whilst you certainly shouldn’t reply in anger, there’s no doubt that you should reply. If you let negative reviews go unchecked, not only does it appear as if you’re sweeping the problem under the carpet, but it also makes your customer service look less than desirable.

Take some time to not only consider your reply, but also the platform that it’s on. If it’s come through on Facebook or a site like TripAdvisor, maintain the formal template of ‘Dear [name]’ and ‘Sincerely [name]’, and take some time to respond to the issues the customer has raised. Was there a particular problem that your company was dealing with? Had the customer confused the service and expected the wrong thing? Whatever it is, always remain polite in tone and avoid accusations. When people see you’re meeting problems head on, they’ll view you as a more trustworthy company.

If you find negative press published in print or on an independent website where you aren’t able to reply, then a new strategy is required. Send them a friendly email with the same kind of response you would publish on Facebook or TripAdvisor, and if you’re concerned about people being influenced, feel free to include this in a blog post or your social media accounts. Again, tackling a bad review directly is key to public relations management – you want to have a trustworthy relationship with your customers, and they want to see that you’re listening.

And on that note… Listen

If you get a bad review for taking too long to handle customer queries, don’t wait two weeks before you reply. Take the feedback on board, however negative it may be, and see how you can improve. If a shipment goes missing, consider a new shipment company; if a customer is offended by a member of staff, see if their communication can be improved; if a hotel room wasn’t up to scratch, examine the cleaning and turnaround services and investigate possible faults. Some things are going to be out of your control and some people are going to be impossible to please, but listen to the feedback you’re being given and propose the ways you’re going to improve.

Navigating the world of PR can be tricky. Are you saying the right things? Are you saying enough? If you feel like you need some training or need a team of experts to take on your public relations management, then drop us a line at info@epmarketing.co.uk, call us on 01473 684 192 or tweet us @ep_marketing.