It’s second nature these days, if you want to find out about something you ‘Google’ it. The same action occurs when people want to find out about your company, they can do a quick search of your name in 0.19 seconds they may have a library full of information about you.
Amongst this avalanche of information (if your name is popular) will be your carefully selected and reviewed website content, media releases and other articles you’ve published online for people to read. However there may also be information, which you have had no direct control over, i.e. the information was published online without your consultation or approval.
It is this type of Information that can be problematic as it may contain negative sentiment about your company. What is being said about your business may or may not be true which can seem unfair and not just.
So how do you go about managing this negative sentiment aimed at your company? Getting it removed is not always possible but there are steps you can take to lessen the damage these reviews and articles might have on your business.
Negative Reviews Made By Competitors
These types of reviews aren’t all that common as this type of negative publicity is sleazy and has the potential to backfire. However if you do come across a negative review written by a competitor you must handle it with caution, because of all the types negative reviews you might get these are the most likely to have offline consequences.
How Can You Tell?
If a company is engaged in bagging their competitors online, they won’t just be going after you. Check to see if any of their other competitors have had similar responses written about them online. Furthermore, competitors carrying out these attacks are likely to be serial abusers, posting more than one negative review, so check for this also.
These reviews are likely to be written anonymously. People think that ‘anonymity ’ gives them shelter from liability, however it doesn’t if you can prove who wrote it.
Competitors tend to blast the whole company, and not individuals. They want to discredit your whole business not just a few people within it.
Do they recommend using another company? This is a tell tale sign, remember they are trying to win business away from you, so they might be bold enough to recommend their own business!
A Fair Approach
Firstly, take screen shots of everything you find for your own records. As mentioned earlier, this type of review is most likely to have offline consequences, so make sure to record them. When responding ensure you don’t use heated language or break your professional demeanour, write from the perspective of the whole company rather than an individuals and explain how you believe the statements to be false. We don’t recommend you call the company you believe to have posted the comments out by name, these sorts of accusations aren’t likely to help your cause.
A Client’s Negative Review
Negative reviews from clients tend to be very specific in their complaints and are likely to contain details as to what went wrong in their transaction with your company. Before you respond to their complaint we recommend investigating the transaction in your records to get a full picture as to what went wrong.
Once you are in a possession of all the facts, you could contact the client directly so you can explain your side of the disagreement. Through this private channel you could try to reach an agreement with the disgruntled client, which ideally will persuade them to update or retract their statement.
If an agreement is unable to be reached then you could respond to the statement explaining what steps you have taken to rectify the situation and why it has not be resolved. At no point do we recommend you attack the client or their complaint.
These sorts of complaints tend to be the most personal and emotional, which can make a professional response difficult. You must keep your cool though and gather as much information about the employee and the reasons for their loss of employment before responding.
You can choose to respond in a number of ways. A simple, ‘we are sorry you feel that way and wish you all the best in your future endeavours’ may suffice. If you wish to directly address their complaints you will have to back your statements up with relevant documentation, explaining your perspective on the disagreement.
If you found the allegations that have been directed towards your company to be false, then state as such but back it up with facts and take screenshots of the complaints for your own documentation.
When responding to complaints from ex-employees we recommend you always remain level-headed and professional. Writing an emotional response will only serve to inflame the situation.
Critics may offer a valid criticism of your business however they might be coming from a frame of mind that is not shared by your customers. This could mean your critics come from a moral or political standpoint, which others may not share, and because critics are not like your customers you have a number of ways in which you can respond.
The easy option is to just not respond. Because their criticism isn’t shared by your customers the negative sentiment is unlikely to change potential customers views of your company, so it doesn’t really do you any damage.
For critical articles that you feel require a response remember to not attack the reviewer or their opinion. You could firstly thank them for their response and then state that while you disagree with them you understand their criticism.