Posted On
March 5, 2018

How to Handle an Employee Getting a Negative Online Review

How to Handle an Employee Getting a Negative Online Review 1

What happens when an employee gets a negative online review? We get this question a lot at RepCheckup. This question may seem straightforward on the surface, but many times the response isn’t quite so simple. What if the reviewer says something particularly troubling?

Chances are you didn’t witness the interaction that led to it. And, if the situation described seems highly charged, you will want to consider a few possible scenarios prior to taking action.

Know this…

It’s likely that both parties will expect you to take their side. There are always reasons to side with each. And remember that you need to be diligent about responding to all online reviews, regardless of whether your instinct is to agree with the reviewer.

So, the question is, what side should you take, if any? Is there a way to get out of this situation with a win?

Was your Business or the Employee Responsible for the Negative Online Review?

Everybody can have a bad day.

Let’s face up to a fact that everyone knows, but is sometimes easy to forget. Your employees are human. Sometimes, it’s just an off day for an otherwise model employee.

The truth is that any number of issues can get in the way of good customer service.

Presumably, if this employee has been on your staff for any period of time, you probably have ample track record that hopefully comes with a high degree of trust in their ability. And, with great employees, oftentimes you heard about the situation from them before you even saw the review and the potential damage to your businesses online reputation.

The customer is always right.

Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. And our cultural values on this matter are clear. Assume the customer is always right or pay with lost future revenue.

If your prospective customers get so much as a whiff of you behaving in a manner that suggests you don’t agree with this precept, you may have difficulty ever winning back that aspect of your brand.

But, your customers are human, also. Sometimes they may have an ax to grind at the expense of whichever employee happened to get in their way. If this is the case–if you side with the reviewer, you may create resentment in the ranks.

Unlike your customers, employees talk. A lot. If employees begin to get the sense that you don’t trust or care about them, team morale could drop significantly.

So, now what?

This is a customer that was ready to make your business pay in terms of the negative review in the first place. Backing your employee at the customer’s expense would be inadvisable.

But, as we covered, your employees will talk. Backing the customer at the employee’s expense could cost you one or more good employees. Are you stuck?

Many feel that they are. And so they do nothing. But this risks sending an even worse message. It’s poor leadership and poor customer advocacy, all at once. It tells your customers and your staff both that you don’t care about them.

Managing Online Reviews with Business Diplomacy

But there is a third option.

The fact is that you don’t have to side with either party in order to address the review in nearly all circumstances. As we covered previously, respond to the review in a helpful and blame-neutral fashion.

“Dear Tom84: Thank you for taking the time to leave a review on our site. I’m sorry your experience wasn’t up to our usual high standards. I’d like to send you a coupon for an additional visit to make it up to you…”

In parallel, take a similar tack with your staff. Avoid singling out the employee involved in the situation.

“Team: We recently had a review in which a customer relayed a situation in which they were treated very rudely by our staff. I know we all have off days and I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate all of you and the efforts you make to delight our customers. I think this is a good reminder to all of us to keep our dealings with all customers cooperative, helpful and pleasant.”

The bottom line is that both parties want to be heard and respected. These situations can test your leadership, but if you respond appropriately, you actually have an opportunity to prove your commitment to both employees and customers in a way that you didn’t prior. And that is a win. For everyone.

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Scott Dunmire
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