As online reviews become more common – and more important – B2B companies are starting to pay closer attention, realizing that these reviews can also make or break B2B sales. But what happens if you get a bad review? A few bad reviews can plummet your overall score (which is all that many prospects will look at). Is there anything companies can do about that?

Well, the first rule is that negative feedback still presents an opportunity to build trust to other prospective customers. So let’s go through the steps you should take when dealing with poor online reviews and low ratings.

1. Make Sure the Review is Authentic

First, check to make sure that the review is from someone who actually had an experience with your brand. Check names if possible, or note the details of the experience to see if it was possible. Sometimes you do get negative reviews from bots or trolls that create fake accounts for whatever reason. Both Google and Facebook allow you to flag, challenge or remove reviews, and many other review sites have similar processes (unfortunately others, like Yelp, will not contest fake reviews unless they violate one of their rules). Immediately start this process when you identify a review as fake, because it’s important to remove it as quickly as you can.

2. Prepare Your Response

You should almost always respond to poor reviews. Yes, even to a fake review: Fake reviews can take a long time to remove even if it’s possible, and in the meantime potential buyers are seeing that fake review, so it’s important that they also see you taking quick and friendly action.

It’s a good idea to have two different types of responses – a boilerplate response that you can just copy and paste, and a customized response that skilled social media managers can build from scratch. A boilerplate response is important because there are some reviews and negative messages that are off the wall or nonsensical, created by people who are frustrated but not great at explaining things. Sometimes all you can do is say, “I’m sorry you had a bad experience, what can I do to help?” and leave it at that, so have one of these messages ready to fire off.

3. Mention the Details

Many negative reviews will include details about the experience. These details may not always be totally accurate (angry people tend to exaggerate, give them a pass when you can), but they are obviously important to the reviewer. In your crafted response, mention these details. Don’t try to dispute them, but acknowledge specific details to show you actually read the review. If you aren’t sure about the accuracy of the report, at least mention the product or process that the reviewer didn’t like. Convince them you are paying attention!

4. Always Try to Ask Questions

Questions are an important part of your response. They help to start a dialogue that can win back customers, and they are essential to clarify what steps you can take. Plus, those questions give everyone a chance to slow down and think about the situation – including you (it’s natural to feel a little personal anger at some bad reviews). When the discussion hopefully resumes, it’s common to find a workable solution now that new information has been provided. When it doubt, just ask the reviewer what they would like done to improve their current situation.

5. Get Contact Information if Possible

Sometimes you can find the customer based on the name or information they provide. Most review sites at least provide a contact email or the ability to send a private message. Finding this contact info is important for reaching out to the reviewer and offering them a solution.

6. Have an Action Plan

While your response is important, you should also try to take action to help remedy the situation. Obviously, there’s not always a lot you can do other than make an apology – which is fine: Sometimes the simplest actions can make a difference, which is why an apology should almost always be part of your response. Other easily accessed actions include sending a code for a product discount, a “free ticket” for a service, or a free product sample. More complex issues should be referred to the account manager with an ASAP note.

 

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