Online reputation can be defined as the sum of all the information on the Internet that will influence the way in which Internet users perceive an entity (brand, natural or legal person, company, etc.). It can therefore be affected by images, videos, content on social networks, in online newspapers, web pages, blogs and opinions. To have an e-reputation, the entity is not obliged to be present on the internet. In other words, just because it does not have a website does not mean that people are not talking about it online.
Today, online presence is essential for all businesses, brands and professionals of all sizes. However, it can be as beneficial as it can be detrimental. Indeed, with the internet the number of people reached is huge and they have many ways to give their opinion. These opinions can be positive or negative and impact the e-reputation of the entity in question. Of course, it is almost impossible to have only positive opinions and it is therefore very important to know how to manage those that are more negative.
Why should we care about negative reviews?
Before dealing with negative comments, it is important to look at and understand why people post such messages and what consequences they have on online entities. According to a study by the Corra agency, almost 88% of consumers avoid a company if it has a bad reputation on social networks. This figure shows how important e-reputation is to other internet users and how damaging such opinions can be.
The survey, conducted on 2,000 people, shows that 52% of respondents are willing to give a negative public review if customer service is inaccessible or incompetent. In addition, 31.4% intend to comment if there is a problem with the product or service purchased.
However, it is possible to take advantage of these negative opinions. Indeed, the entity can correct its strategy according to the real experience of the customer. More concretely, if 52% of customers find the customer service incompetent and inaccessible, the company or brand can improve this specific point so that there are more positive comments.
Above all, consumers want to have their problem solved. It is therefore essential to deal with negative reviews and meet their expectations. Burying your head in the sand is never the answer.
The different types of negative reviews
Obviously, there are as many different opinions as there are people, but they can be grouped into distinct categories:
- Damaging comments: this type of notice gives entities the opportunity to respond publicly and directly. It is also important to know that 38.9% of dissatisfied customers want an apology and 73% want to avoid other people having the same bad experiences. For this reason, and under these conditions, the company under attack must respond quickly and publicly to the customer on the same platform. It is necessary to explain as rationally as possible the problem that has occurred and say that it is unusual. It is also important to apologise for the inconvenience caused and indicate that all the tools are in place to resolve the problem as quickly as possible so that it does not happen again. Finally, it is advisable to publicly invite the dissatisfied customer to contact the company to find the most appropriate solution to their problem. This is best done by telephone or e-mail. This whole process (apology and willingness to solve the problem) serves to maintain the e-reputation in the right way.
- Negative comments: Negative comments may concern claims for reimbursement and transparency. On the internet too, it is important to be transparent. 48.7% want more transparency about pricing and company policies. Honesty is therefore essential in dealing with negative reviews. It helps to distinguish oneself from competitors and to redeem oneself with customers. For example, when dealing with refund requests, avoid referring the buyer to the terms and conditions. Instead, apologise first and give them a means of contact to consider a refund on a case-by-case basis. In 48.3% of cases, buyers just want a voucher.
- Harmful comments: these types of reviews only concern 13.5% of people who want to take revenge after a bad experience to damage a company’s e-reputation. The methodology for dealing with this type of situation is the same: apologise, explain that this problem rarely occurs and commit to resolving it. It is even possible to invite the complainant to share their good ideas for correcting the mistakes. The last solution is to silence the bad faith people by inviting satisfied customers to give feedback more often.
However, the picture is not as bleak as it seems, since according to the study, 89.7% of customers are willing to give companies, brands and professionals a second chance after a dissatisfaction.
It is just important to know how to handle such situations. In any case, when responding to reviews, there are a few obvious rules to follow: respond publicly in a tactful manner, apologise, explain the origin of the problem, assure that it will not happen again, and propose solutions. Thanks to this fairly simple method, other Internet users can see that the entity under attack is sincere in its approach and takes time to respond on a case-by-case basis. As a result, the e-reputation is less impacted. Nevertheless, it is important to encourage satisfied customers to post positive reviews and the company must provide quality products and services.