How to manage nasty word-of-mouth reviews

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Andy Sernovitz discusses what businesses can do when they receive negative reviews on social media

Andy Sernovitz, author of “Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking,” tells how to turn negative reviews into positive customer service moments. Photo courtesy of Andy Sernovitz.

By Andy Sernovitz

Yelp and Angie’s List are great resources of  word-of-mouth marketing ­­– when the reviews are positive. But how do you combat that one negative review?

1) Respond to the negative review or complaint quickly.

2) Respond like a person, not a company, by introducing yourself: “My name is Jenny…” This will immediately defuse some of the anger.

3) Engage with the customer to try to fix the problem.

4) Once the problem is resolved, the satisfied customer might be your best word of mouth. They’ll tell their friends, networks and followers how pleasant you were and how you made things right.

Of course, ideally we would all love to avoid negative reviews in the first place. To defray them, be sure to post positive reviews. Ask the happy customers to write a review, but never pay for it.

Andy Sernovitz teaches word of mouth marketing and social media and is the author of “Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking.” He leads and and also writes the “Damn, I wish I’d Thought of That!” blog (

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