4 Steps to stop negative reviews costing you sales

Reputation is everything online, especially for eCommerce retailers and local businesses. In a matter of minutes, prospective customers can crowd source opinions from thousands of strangers – if that impression is negative, it could be costing you sales and hampering your ability to grow.

It’s impossible to prevent all negative reviews but with a few tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be able to monitor your online reputation, see your brand as prospective customers do and have tactics to turn a negative into a positive.

Step 1: Assess your reputation

In order to properly manage your online reputation and prevent negative reviews from taking over search results for your brand, you’ll need to see what your prospective customers see.

Assessing your reputation doesn’t need to be complex or scary. All you’re doing is putting yourself in the shoes of a search user and then recording your findings.

An obvious place to start is with Google. Type in your brand name and review the search results returned. Be sure to look at the ‘People Also Ask’ results (if any are returned) and click through to the news tab to see what’s being written (if anything) about you in the press.

Conduct additional searches for variations of your brand name with keywords like reviews, pricing, recommended, alternatives, competitors and so on – anything that a prospective customer may type in when trying to build a picture of your business.

Next, head to the most prominent review platforms for your industry. If you aren’t sure where to start, head to Google’s reviews for your brand.

If you want to go further still, try the same approach on social media to see what people are saying about you. If you already use a social media management tool, you can use that to dig up mentions of your business name.

Step 2: Review your findings

You should now have a good idea of what prospects are seeing when they search for your brand online. Review what you have found and highlight any troubling areas where you’ll need to take corrective action. You should have claimed your review profiles on popular platforms, but if not, do that now so you have the power to respond to reviews and flag up inaccurate or spam feedback.

Likewise, if you have come across any inaccurate information through the course of your research, take the necessary corrective action now.

Step 3: Create a strategy for responding to negative reviews

If you have been able to identify negative reviews, now is the time to begin damage control. You’ll need to devise a strategy for responding to negative reviews. In general, this should look like:

  • Thanking the reviewer for their feedback.
  • Address their concerns.
  • Outline any corrective action taken.
  • Invite the reviewer to get in touch privately to discuss further.

Your review response will be public so how you respond can help to reframe the impression that other consumers have of your business. You should always be respectful and genuine. Inviting the reviewer to reach out to you privately to resolve their issue (such as via email or phone) also demonstrates that you value feedback and want to make things right.

Step 4: Set up review monitoring and analysis

With the immediate areas of concern dealt with, you can look to take a proactive approach. Manually checking review sites and social media can be time consuming but there are tools available which can do the leg work for you. Having a few standard template responses to hand can also speed up the process of responding to reviews.

You should also be alert to any recurring themes which indicate that there could be a deeper problem. A slew of poor reviews complaining about delivery timeframes or slow processing of returns for example could make a huge dent in your sales if left unresolved. Be mindful of any patterns like that so you can fully investigate internally and take any necessary corrective action within the business to avoid that negative feedback becoming commonplace.

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