Yesterday a new school year officially started in all schools. This is also a time of intensive work for all language schools because enrollment for groups is underway and new courses are going to be launched any day now. Besides building the school’s image and focusing on marketing actions, you should remember that what mainly determines students’ decisions to undertake to learn in your school, are the opinions issued by other customers. Therefore, one of the most important aspects in the building of a positive image of your school is monitoring of opinions and comments on the Internet.

Comments may vary: they can be positive, neutral or negative, but the latter is the best-remembered ones by your potential students and left on their own that might bring enormous losses for your school. It doesn’t matter whether those are issued by a dissatisfied customer or are attributable to actions of unfair competition – no negative comment may be left without your reply. In the article below, we will go step by step through various types of negative opinions that appear on the web, and I will tell you how to cope with each of them. I can assure you that having read this article you will find out that the hater’s not as black as he is painted 🙂

1. Who gives opinions?

Opinions about you are most often given by a very satisfied or by a very dissatisfied customer. Customers who are relatively satisfied with the services are usually less willing to express their opinions online. Another case is comprised of false evaluations, most frequently-issued by unfair competition. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to remove such opinions from Google and for that reason, this is where they are most often placed.

2. Where you should look for opinions about yourself?

The easiest way is to create a list or catalog of the places and sites where company cards were created and social networking sites. This will help you have your finger on the pulse and regularly control the evaluations appearing at various sites.

3. Types of opinions

Whether this is a Facebook or Google Maps we encounter 3 types of negative opinions:

  • Low score without a comment (1-3 stars)

We can cope with opinions of that type, and the best thing to do is to post a reply immediately under the scoring. In the content of such reply it is best to express your regret over customer’s dissatisfaction and ask for direct phone or e-mail contact with the school with a view to clarifying the reasons underlying the customer’s dissatisfaction. If the opinion is not anonymous, it is worthwhile to check at the school management Platform, whether such person has ever been our student. This will allow for identification whether this is not a false opinion. If it turns out that such a person attended a course in your school, it is worthwhile to analyze their history and examine what might be the reasons for the dissatisfaction. Owing to this, you will be better prepared for a conversation and this will help you to think about how you might improve the situation.

  • low score with a negative comment

An opinion that any entrepreneur fears most, but also one that is easiest to respond to. The first rule is not to start a dispute with the customer in public! This is absolutely like shooting yourself in the foot, on par with denigrating the person who gave the opinion. If the reason underlying your customer’s dissatisfaction was presented in the comment, then the best solution is to address its content in a professional way. Similarly to the first case, you should invite for direct contact and – if the person is right –  apologize for the situation. If that person is not fully right we should still apologize for the fact that a given situation was so perceived by the concerned student.

  • a false opinion

If you are a hundred percent sure that a given opinion was issued by unfair competition and/or with a view to lowering the overall scoring, there is an easy way to turn it to your advantage. In direct response to an unfavorable opinion, offer to the dissatisfied person compensation in the form of money refund, free lessons or some other attractive bonus. Certainly, like in other cases, we leave our contact data. If the opinion was artificially generated, nobody will claim such compensation, while such action will be very positively perceived by your future customers.

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4. Basic know-how of professional replies to negative comments

Absolute basics of replying to negative opinions that will help you to stay professional in any situation:

  • Respond as swiftest as possible. The faster you react, the greater the certainty you have that third person will read not only the unfavorable opinion but also your position on that topic.
  • Never let emotions take the best of you. Remember that your reply is the most reliable review of your school.
  • Resolve the situation amicably and to this end try to obtain as many pieces of reliable information as possible.
  • Apologize even if this is not your fault. You are not going to lose anything and you can gain a lot.
  • If you manage to resolve the dispute in a manner that is satisfactory for the customer, ask them to remove the scoring or rectify it.
  • Try to source actively opinions from satisfied students.
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It is not easy to face a negative opinion about yourself, particularly one posted in public and even more so because it is aimed against something you have been building with great dedication and commitment. But sometimes it is worthwhile to pocket your pride, draw conclusions and turn the potential failure into a positive marketing charge for your school.

For consolation, let me add that according to consumer research, a company with scoring of 4.9-4.8 enjoys a greater trust than one with immaculate scoring of 5 😉

If you liked this article, please let me know in the comments. We will be extremely happy if you share your experiences on that issue. This might prove useful in the second part of the article, where I will be analyzing the most frequent reasons for students’ dissatisfaction and negative opinions about language schools

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