How to handle a poor online review

Financial advisers who receive a negative review online should stay calm and respond, experts say

Apr 11, 2014 @ 4:16 pm

By Liz Skinner

Financial advisers who receive a negative review online should stay calm and respond, experts said.

“Companies are fearful of having negative comments, but oftentimes, you can take that negative comment and turn it around to show you care and are going to make things right,” said Amy McIlwain, president of consulting firm Financial Social Media.

For instance, if a client said in a review that he or she didn't fully understand the investments on which advice was provided, begin by explaining the situation on the site, she said.

Apologize for how the event made the client feel and perhaps offer to schedule an appointment to see if his or her experience can be improved.

The most important thing is to acknowledge the situation, not ignore it and leave it out there without a reply, Ms. McIlwain said.

If something in a review is false or misleading, the adviser should contact the third-party review site with documentation of why it isn't correct and see if it can be removed, she said.

MAKING A CASE

The site may or may not take it down.

“Advisers will have to make a pretty good case for why it's not an objective review,” Ms. McIlwain said.

Social-media consultants also can help an adviser push down in Google search results a review site with a negative comment by adding new items such as a Facebook page or Twitter account that will pop up above it, she said.

“About 80% of people don't go beyond Page One of Google,” Ms. McIlwain said.

WalletHub chief executive Odysseas Papadimitriou also recommends that advisers be proactive about any negative reviews that the public writes.

“Respond to negative reviews in a thoughtful way,” he said. “Customers want to see you react in good times and in bad.”

WalletHub also tries to filter out fake reviews and spam, said Mr. Papadimitriou, who admits that no review site can guarantee that only real clients are leaving comments.

“There are always going to be attempts of people to write fake reviews or put down competitors,” he said. “They do this for ice cream shops; they will definitely do it for investment advisers, where there's much more money at stake.”

Grant Easterbrook, a senior research associate at consulting firm Corporate Insight, offers advisers a final tip.

“Try not to do something that would cause someone to leave a scathing review online,” he said.

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