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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   May 2017

Keep Calm and Carry On

Dealing with negative online reviews takes tact and professionalism

r_2017-05_Hormozian_spotProfessionalism is important in the mortgage industry. Mortgage originators are advisers on the largest investment most people make in their lives. Borrowers want to know they can trust the person guiding them through the process.

This professionalism must extend to the online presence maintained by the mortgage company as well as every employee. Unfortunately, the professionalism — and calm demeanor — of anyone with an active presence online can be tested by negative online publicity that comes from Facebook posts and Yelp reviews.

The best way to deal with these incidents is to try to never find yourself in the situation to begin with, by providing excellent customer service at all times and interacting cautiously with each and every person you come across online. You never know when you might cross a power-Yelper with hundreds of reviews posted or an angry Facebook poster who feels the need to prove a point. If you do find yourself dealing with an online attack, however, there are a few important points to keep in mind when deciding how to react.

Maintain composure

When someone leaves a negative review, don’t use your opportunity to respond as a way to “strike back.” Instead, consider the situation calmly and assess the appropriate response that the situation warrants. When you can take a step back from an emotional, knee-jerk response, you can think more clearly about the long-term effects your response will have on the situation as well as your reputation.

Remember the wise words of George Bernard Shaw in this situation. He said, “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” Stay true to yourself and steer clear of pigs.

In the case of reviews or posts that are dishonest or even flat-out lies, don’t engage at all. Instead, use the tools provided by the social media platform to report these false reviews and set the facts straight. When making reports, remember that a thoughtful, intelligent and eloquent response will certainly make your case stronger than an angry post full of accusations.

Focus on yourself and how the posted review is not truthful rather than making any statements about the original poster. Also, if the negative review was posted by a competitor, you can inform the site of that fact. Help the online community by making sure posted reviews are truthful and reliable.

Finally, when you see a review — whether positive or negative — in most cases it’s best to reach out to the poster and address the situation promptly and professionally, and thank the poster for taking the time to bring the situation to your attention. Don’t let too much time pass between the review and your response because this can make it look like you are unresponsive, which speaks volumes about your professionalism.

Once you have calmed down enough to collect your thoughts, use the opportunity as a way to turn the review around by responding so professionally and courteously that you leave a positive impression of yourself for any reader who happens to come across the review.

Take responsibility

Professionalism and personal responsibility go hand in hand. If no one knows the situation cited in a bad review better than you, it is important that you take ownership and address it yourself. Having an assistant, without all the facts, attempt to respond on your behalf could make you look irresponsible, careless and dismissive. Take the time and do it yourself.

Often even the smallest gesture can win back an unhappy customer and increase your credibility with other prospective customers.

Along with doing it yourself, see if there is a way to salvage the situation. Perhaps the incident took place as a result of a miscommunication or circumstances beyond your control. Assess the situation and see if you can make something positive come from it. Perhaps you can offer a discount or an alternative solution for the customer. Perhaps you can offer to meet the poster for coffee so you can resolve the issue with a personal meeting.

Often even the smallest gesture can win back an unhappy customer and increase your credibility with other prospective customers at the same time. When people see the lengths you are willing to go to provide excellent customer service, they will be more likely to work with you and more likely to refer business to you as well.

Promote goodwill

We all know the Benjamin Franklin saying: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” To avoid bad reviews, originators must put forth an effort to be professional in every interaction they have, small or large.

Whether an opportunity turns into a profitable venture or not, be professional because you never know what will happen with that client or referral source or lead down the line. The internet lead that disappeared after you sent out an introductory e-mail may come back with a lead for a relative or friend. Putting in the effort beforehand to broadcast good impressions will be well worth the effort in the long run.

It also is important to remember that after having positive interactions with prospective clients, take the time to thank them for their business and politely ask them for the favor of a positive review. Say something along the lines of: “Thank you. It was great working with you. I am glad you are pleased with the outcome. If you would be so kind as to leave a quick note expressing your satisfaction with my services on [Yelp, Facebook, etc.], it would mean the world to me.”

These types of requests are rarely turned down by truly satisfied customers and go a long way in establishing your positive and professional online presence.

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When it comes to dealing with bad reviews online, it is always better to take the high road, no matter how tempting the low road might be. If you take the points presented here into consideration when these situations raise their ugly heads, and do your best to provide excellent customer service at all times, you will be well on your way to creating an impressive, dominant and positive online presence. 


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