Most small businesses never intend on displeasing customers, but bad publicity and negative consumer reviews can happen to the best of us. But how do you successfully manage a PR crisis to protect and defend your company when faced with a public challenge to your reputation.
We asked thirteen entrepreneurs to share their recommendations on how to deal with negative publicity and bad customer reviews. Here’s what they had to say:
1. Create a response strategy.
“Turn a bad customer review into something positive by creating a response strategy. Whenever possible, first reach out to the customer, address the issue, and work toward an amicable solution. A bad review is a great opportunity to internalize important customer feedback and develop your business.”
2. Enhance online reputation with strategic SEO tactics.
“The best way to handle bad reviews is to take a proactive approach with reputation management via search engines. Businesses should create profiles online in as many places as possible, like social media channels, directories, etc., and optimize these profiles for search engines. That way, these destinations can essentially ‘take over’ the first page (or more) of search results if someone searches for your brand in Google, and any bad press or negative reviews will be pushed to the second or third page.”
3. Address negative press head-on.
“Look for trends in the bad press to aid in the continuous improvement of your business. Where possible, address the bad press and what you are doing to remedy the issue. There’s no shame in making mistakes. It’s what you do after the mistake that matters. Businesses that project an image of integrity and honesty are usually businesses consumers want to support.”
4. Respond in a thoughtful way.
“The best way to deal with bad press is to simply respond to the bad review in a personal, thoughtful way! This lets the customer know you hear them and you want to correct things.”
5. Contact your industry trade association.
“If the bad press is based more on a political, civic, or personal viewpoint on an industry than straight hard facts, don’t be afraid to contact your state or national trade association to speak on your behalf. That’s what they are there for, and often they can communicate the issue or problem in a big picture, instead of you speaking about your isolated incident.
6. Follow your customer service policy.
“Be proactive and have a customer service policy so all employees know where you stand on customer appreciation and attitude. If a client is not satisfied, we ask that they let us know, allow us one day at the most to respond, and propose a solution which usually includes additional benefits if we can offer them. If our client is still not happy, we will refund their money, no questions asked.”