Negative online reviews are especially harmful for a nonprofit where the road to success is based on the public perception of trust and competency. Because of the real-time nature of the web, quick action is needed to diffuse a bad review on Yelp or complaints on social media. This is the type of bad online feedback a charity must address immediately. It’s essential to defend the organization’s reputation as soon as any critical comment or negative review is encountered.
Here are 8 ways you can defend your reputation against negative online reviews:
1. Pause before reacting
Your nonprofit has been on the receiving end of a less-than-favorable comment. Stop! Take a deep breath. You may be upset but timing is important and your swift response must be created with a clear head.
2. Put yourself in the complainer’s shoes
Before you go on the defensive, you need to ask yourself if there could be a grain of truth in what was said. Assess you organization in light of the criticism. Try to view the issue through the other person’s eyes; see their point of view.
3. If appropriate, contact the complainer
When you get a negative online reviews or bad comment, try to contact that person and see if there is any way to make things right. Acknowledge that you understand their concerns. If the issue is a simple one, you may be able to solve it with a simple response.
Going the extra mile to make things right is an investment in your nonprofit’s future success and improved reputation.
4. Apologize for their distress
If you can’t make it right for whatever reason, try to publicly acknowledge it, apologize for their experience, and promise to review the issue.
Without accepting blame, you can still apologize for the fact that the complainer felt wronged. Fixing what went wrong can be a positive opportunity for your nonprofit even if it isn’t always successful. By posting a desire to make things right, other stakeholders are reassured that your organization cares and works hard to keep them happy.
5. Never let a negative online review go unanswered
Don’t let an unhappy client tarnish your nonprofit’s good name; negative online reviews could sway other marginally dissatisfied people to make their own criticisms known. As you defend your reputation, keep your cool.
Always be pleasant, honest, and even humble in your reply. By using a public forum, your reply can diffuse the issue; their problem has been heard and they’ve been shown respect by your acknowledging it. This sends the message to others that you pay attention to your stakeholders and constituents and respond accordingly.
6. If the issue is resolved, could the negative comment be retracted
Comments can be modified by the objector posting a revision to their original review. They could also remove it, or post a follow-up review that diminishes the original negativity. This ideally should come spontaneously from the now-mollified complainer.
If it’s clear that you did the right thing, the critic can sometimes be prompted to consider modifying their original bad review. (This might be touchy however and sometimes it might be better to leave ‘good enough’ alone.)
7. Don’t let one bad review keep you down
If you’ve done everything to fix a bad comment with limited success, continuing to improve your rankings on other platforms will drive down the rankings of the negative feedback.
This can be done by linking to the positive reviews and comments on your website. Mention and link to all those good reviews from your social media accounts and don’t forget the positive reviews from your online directory profiles.
Make sure to develop the nonprofit’s social media accounts and optimize all videos and photos. This serves to displace any bad reviews through better SEO. You are burying the negative with positive comments and feedback.
8. Create positive publicity for your organization
Publishing great content on your website and social media are two options to dilute the negativity and promote the good your organization does.
You will need to craft an epic story around your nonprofit showing it in a positive light. An exceptional event, a personal story of triumph, a life transformed through the nonprofit’s mission? You’ll need to figure out what story will engage your audience and increase positive attention. For maximum media reaction, an emotionally touching story stands a better chance of being picked up by news sites.
With your story written, you can also promote it by submitting a press release to major news aggregators. This process can be done manually or you can use a professional service like PR Web.
A bad review, a negative comment, even disgruntled feedback can feel like a slap in the face. Life goes on. Look at it as a wake-up call, a force for good driving your organization toward greater work. Treat this as an opportunity to up your game.
And remember, there are times when a courteous and generously-worded public response can make you shine, while doing the opposite for the complainer.