Negative Online Reviews: To Respond or Not?

Stick figure man being punched by fist flying out of computer screenBy Melonie Curry, MBA

“That sign was not visible.” “I’ve never heard of that parking regulation.” “Why don’t you address real crimes?” “This is just a money grab by a corrupt government agency.”

Sound familiar? How many times a day do you hear these or similar comments? Receiving a parking citation is a very unpleasant experience for most. Now, they are empowered to write an immediate online review in the heat of the moment. They can freely express their frustration about the undeserved envelope on their windshield and give your organization the lowest rating possible. It won’t be long before the members of their social media network chime in.

It often seems futile to respond because the review is posted and the damage is done. How many people will read the review in future? The author’s frustration is understandable, and you cannot change that. But is what they posted accurate? Does it include misinformation?

You already have the negative review, so what do you have to lose? Take this opportunity to clear up any posted misinformation. It may be printed on the citation but make sure they are aware of their options to contest. Provide a link with refresher course on local parking regulations and help them avoid future citations.

Some will comment with further fury. Often, many comment, “Thank you.” They are surprised that someone actually responded and they feel heard. They may not give you a 5-star review but they will appreciate the effort and learn some important information on how to avoid future frustration.

Melonie Curry, MBA, is staff analyst with ParkHouston. She will present on “Using Social Listening to Improve Your Customer Service” during an IPMI webinar, Wednesday, March 17 (1 CAPP point). Click here for details and to register.