4 Ways to Protect Your Brand Reputation From Bad Reviews


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Protecting your online reputation means more now than ever before. Roughly 94% of customers claim that a negative review has convinced them not to purchase from a brand. This indicates that “bad” comments can be problematic for business owners, but there are ways to approach them and turn them around to be more positive.

At some point, you’ll have to deal with negative customer comments online and must learn to respond to criticism effectively. There are countless techniques out there, but here are the ones we’ve used with great success at Keever SEO, taking our cue from some of the most popular brands.

Related: Why You Must Monitor Your Online Reputation Before it Hurts You

1. Creating a separate support handle

As our brand grew, we struggled to complete our daily tasks. Conducting competitor research, mastering content marketing and sending out customer support emails made managing our online reputation challenging. One way we combatted that issue was by creating separate support handles, which is similar to what Nike did.

Nike created a separate Twitter (now X) account (@NikeSupport) dedicated solely to handling customer questions and complaints. We used our company name and it’s working well. The goal is to keep customer questions and comments in a single place. This helps you respond to your loyal fans quickly and efficiently, but it also reduces the risk of negativity in other feeds.

For example, our clients’ Facebook pages often get flooded with questions and sometimes even negativity, as their customers need help to reach out. Once we added a separate X handle for support, everyone knew they could go there for queries and concerns. We recommend that you create a separate support handle for your brand. It doesn’t take much time to complete, and it will make it easier to find and address negative comments.

2. Using humor to respond to criticism

While creating a separate handle for support is beneficial, we still found that some customers were a bit standoffish. Since we were focused on being funny, warm and welcoming, we took inspiration from the Joe Dough Sandwich Shop in NYC and sometimes used humor to deal with criticism.

Humor should only be used for criticisms when the complaint isn’t severe, and it’s only appropriate if it matches your brand’s tone and style. It’s quite easy to trigger a backlash of unhappy customers if you aren’t taking things seriously.

When done well, humor diffuses a challenging and awkward situation. Joe Dough Sandwich Shop used this style to respond to a bad review on Yelp. The intelligent comment created a funny moment and boosted the brand’s profile online. After a Yelp user complained that the meatball sandwich was the worst he’d ever had, the shop wrote about it on the chalkboard menu out front. People were commenting about how funny it was, which created more engagement.

If you plan to use humor to deal with complaints, we recommend doing it only when it makes sense. A comment of one sentence, such as “this sandwich sucked,” might fare well with a funny response, but someone who is raging over many paragraphs will likely need a more respectful and thought-out response.

Related: What is Google Saying? Why a Positive Brand Reputation Online is So Important

3. Showing that you’re competent

Sometimes, a customer is angry so a polite response won’t calm them. This has happened to us before, and it’s disheartening to read those types of comments. However, ignoring them won’t help — it might actually make things worse.

One time, a person claimed our client offered terrible customer service. They went into great detail about their package deal and how they didn’t assist them in making the arrangements they promised on the website. Ultimately, they were mistaken because the client didn’t actually guarantee those things that were listed on the site.

We recommended that the client thank the person for their comment, directly address the issue and explain how they would fix the problem in the future so that no one else would be upset.

Why did that work? Overall, we realized that viewers would see the person’s comment and response and realize they were unreasonable. Though we appeased the original commenter by answering them, we also indicated to others that we were competent enough to handle all types of queries.

4. Avoiding canned responses (even though it’s easier)

Investing in online reputation management is essential for all types of businesses, whether you’re running a startup, a small company or a large corporation. You may think shortcuts like artificial intelligence (AI) are often a great way to respond to people’s questions and needs, though they have their limits.

You’ve likely heard of chatbots, which answer a customer’s question without needing the human touch. It works well for traditional FAQs and other things but is not ideal for complaints.

When we observed clients switch from a human responder to a chatbot for review responses, we discovered that everything sounded canned (because it was). Though this isn’t necessarily bad in some situations, it doesn’t work for complaints because people want to feel heard.

We then recommended that humans write the comments using scripts, but that still didn’t work. Canned responses sound dull and often upset the commenter more. Therefore, it’s always wise to have a real person craft the words. It might not be perfect, but it will offer a personalized touch.

Related: Why Investing in Reputation Management is Crucial for Your Business Strategy

The bottom line

Though many tools are available to help you manage your online reputation, it’s all about how you react to people’s comments. There are bound to be negative reviews periodically, and you must decide how to respond.

Humor and sarcasm can be great comeback options. However, those only work when the issue isn’t severe. Likewise, creating a separate support handle can be helpful because it keeps all the negativity or queries in one spot.

Overall, you want to respond quickly to negative comments, avoid canned responses and explain how you’ll address the issues customers bring up. Doing these things (and implementing any changes) shows that you care about the consumer and their experiences.

Whether you use online reputation management tools, hire a separate staff member to write responses or tackle the job alone, acting quickly and responding professionally is crucial.

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