Responding to Negative Online Reviews of Your School

thumbs downThere’s an old expression that says you can’t please all of the people all of the time and sadly, it’s true, even for higher education providers. There will always be a few people who, whether legitimate or not, will feel they had a bad experience with your brand, and thanks to the internet, these folks have a direct outlet through which they can share their thoughts with the masses. The way you respond to negative reviews can either help protect and uphold your reputation or tarnish it further. That being said, let’s take a look at a few tips for making sure it’s the former.

Monitor Your Brand – You can’t respond to negative comments if you’re not aware they’re out there, so be proactive about monitoring what’s being said about your school. You can make this easier by setting up a Google alert, which will notify you any time the name of your higher education institution is mentioned online.

Apply the 24-Hour Rule – It’s never easy to see unpleasant things being said about your brand, but responding immediately can make matters even worse. That’s because it’s human nature to feel defensive, which can come across in your response. To avoid adding fuel to the fire, wait 24 hours before delivering your answer. This can help you calm down, digest what’s been said and formulate a professional, positive response.

Always Start with ‘Thank You’ – It may seem strange to be thanking someone who just attempted to smear your good name, but it’s the right thing to do. Try to look at negative comments as valuable feedback which can help you improve on areas that may be lacking. In this sense, they’re actually helpful.

Acknowledge, Apologize and Amend – In many cases, simply validating that your reviewer had a bad experience is enough to calm the waters. That’s why your response to any less-than-stellar comment should always begin with an acknowledgement that the situation occurred. This should be followed up by a sincere apology and an action plan for correcting the problem. For instance,

“Hi Jane. Thank you for bringing this situation to our attention. We’re sorry that you had such a negative experience and we want you to know that we’ve taken XYZ steps to ensure that it never happens again.”

By doing this, not only do you appease the unhappy reviewer, but you also document and demonstrate to any other person who comes across the review while researching your higher education institution in the future that you care, you take feedback seriously and you’re on top of making sure issues are addressed and corrected promptly.

Receiving negative reviews is never easy, especially since you work so hard to make your school the very best in every way. By applying the techniques above, however, you can essentially turn unpleasant experiences into a positive marketing tool and also improve operations so it’s even better moving forward.

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