We all make mistakes. But as long as we learn, rather than repeat them, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. But when a business or personal brand encounters the dreaded negative review or feedback, it is never a good feeling.
We all fiercely protect our online reputation and for a good reason. Freelancers can lose a lot of income and even become invisible to potential clients as a result of a bad rating. But, you are not alone. Even the world’s biggest brands have a deep-seated fear of being lambasted online across all their social channels.
These are just a few examples of how broken the current review landscape is. We are living in a digital world where we champion extreme opposites. For example, many online reviews are extremely negative and clearly written by someone in a fit of rage or frustration.
On the flipside, many extremely positive reviews are either written by staff or users transparently looking for reciprocity. In society, we often follow a set of unwritten rules, but these extreme ways of reviewing products, services or even people provide little in terms of value to people in search of the truth.
Anyone that has scrolled through reviews on Trip Advisor will testify that many online ratings will tell you more about the person and their agenda rather than what they are supposedly reviewing. But how did we get up here?
The biggest problem is that we have been conditioned to believe that only the perfect shareable Instagram life and experiences have any value. On the other end of the scale, we are terrified of a negative rating and how it will affect our score like the character in the Black Mirror episode, Nosedive.
However, what if there was a way out of this smiley, status-obsessed, nightmare and turn the tables on the big, bad negative review and use it as an opportunity to improve? Rather than running a mile at the thought of tackling a bad rating head on, let’s take a look at how we should be responding to both positive and negative reviews.
Don’t: Ignore Bad Reviews or Try to Suppress Them
Relax. You or your brand are not perfect. Only showcasing five-star reviews and deleting everything else will arise the suspicion of your users. A few bad reviews along with your long list of positive ratings shows that you are human and also provides you with an opportunity to highlight how you listen and take action to improve.
We all accept that there is no such thing as an individual or company that is perfection personified. But, we do want to see evidence that they invest time into ensuring their customers are satisfied with their experience and actively address any issue before it turns into a bigger problem.
Refusing to listen to your audience is possibly the worst decision you can make. It shows that you do not care or have any interest in improving your service. By contrast addressing their concerns, fixing their problems and offering superior customer service, could transform customers into loyal fans.
Do: Engage With Positive Reviews
If someone were to compliment you in person, most people would either respond with self-deprecating humor or simply say thank-you. A positive online review is no different, and politeness is equally as important, if not more so, when it is publically on display in front of your entire audience.
According to BrightLocal, an incredible 92% of visitors are reading reviews before making a purchase. How you respond to a positive or negative review also enables your potential customers to see how you are likely to treat them. By actively engaging with your online community, you will also encourage others to join the conversation.
Sadly, bad news sells and good news does not, so you are unlikely to see a positive review go viral. But meaningfully engaging with your customers will increase your loyal following and help you build a strong referral network.
Why You Should Stop Being Afraid Of Negative Reviews
Local search expert, Mike Blumenthal once said that there are two kinds of businesses in today’s world. Those that have received a negative review and those that will. Once you accept this inevitable truth, it can be quite liberating.
Sure, human curiosity means that many are more interested in reading negative reviews than positive reviews. But this enables you to speak through your actions and address any issues, concerns or improvements directly.
We can all feel vulnerable when engaging with an online audience. But, a negative review is merely an opportunity to learn and improve rather than anything to be angry or embarrassed about. If you were repeating a mistake, would you want your best friend to tell you? Or would you prefer they just said you were amazing? An online review is no different.
In a digital world where everyone is posting a highlight reel of how they would like to be perceived on social media, maybe it’s time to try something different. What if we were proud of our human frailties and ability to learn from our mistakes. This is how we really build trust and show the authentic side of our character. So, why are we so afraid of bad reviews?
Tech Columnist, Writer, Blogger and Podcaster featured in @HuffingtonPost @TheNextWeb @Inc @ZDnet & LinkedIn Top Voice on Technology https://lists.linkedin.com/2015/top-voices/technology?trk=ranking-overview-b-ind#.