Think of a time when you had an issue with a company you were dealing with. Maybe it was a bad experience at an online checkout, or not getting the customer service you expected for a faulty product you purchased — whatever it was, your overall experience left you feeling annoyed, and maybe even a little angry.
This unfortunate experience may have led you to share your angst with the world, via social media or by posting a negative review. (And isn’t it interesting that we don’t often rush to post positive reviews when we experience exceptional service? It’s true, we typically want the world to know when we’ve been wronged, but not so much when we are enjoying a particular service or product experience.)
But, I digress. While it’s true that no business is immune to negative reviews, there’s quite a lot you can do to ensure that your loyal customers–and your prospective customers–can see beyond any negative posts, whether valid or not, and maintain trust in your brand.
The key to ensuring that bad reviews don’t affect your business is to have a strategic plan in place to respond to any negative reviews, both quickly and appropriately. Some key things to consider when drafting a plan on handling negative reviews include:
This is the most important point. Anytime you receive a negative review, respond in a timely manner. Responding quickly shows unhappy customers that you pay attention and are open to ways to improve and provide better service.
Acknowledge the issue
Customers tend to have their own reasons for a negative review. Some of those reasons are valid, and some are not. In either case, it’s important that you acknowledge each negative comment with something like “Thank you for letting us know about this issue. We appreciate the feedback and the opportunity to improve.” Letting your customer know they are heard and that you are committed to correcting the situation is the first step to finding a solution.
Be professional and apologize
Not all negative reviews will be professional — as most will come from a place of frustration –, but it’s important to respond with respect and professionalism. Be sincere with your apology and offer a solution to resolve their issue. Offering an honest apology can go a long way to alleviate some of the negative emotions your displeased customer may be feeling. Taking the time to listen to their concerns can save a customer’s loyalty.
Go the extra mile for exceptional customer service
Always be understanding in your response, and where it’s warranted, go the extra mile and offer some kind of compensation to help resolve an issue. This can do wonders for your customer retention. By going above and beyond, you could turn a negative review into a satisfied, lifelong customer relationship.
Respond publicly but contact the customer privately
Respond initially to the review and briefly share what you are doing to resolve or correct the situation in the appropriate public place, but offer to speak further about how you can fully resolve the situation privately. It’s best for the majority of your conversation to be taken care of offline where possible. Doing so will give you the opportunity to be more personable with your customer, as well as keep the conversation out of public view in case the situation escalates.
Ask customers to update negative reviews
A good rule of thumb after resolving a negative review is to request they update it. Resist the urge to hide or delete the review – by leaving it up, you offer a sense of transparency to your new prospects. This will also show your company’s commitment to customer service and helping unsatisfied customers.
Closely monitor your reviews
To offer the most updated and accurate information for your customers, closely monitor your reviews. If you come across any inaccurate or fake reviews, request they be removed.
Learn from them
Every interaction with a reviewer will be different. Take what you can from them and adapt your business to best serve your customers. Reviews can be great tools to gain insight into what may or may not be working for your customers.
Don’t try to hide negative reviews, embrace them, instead. They offer a more realistic layer to your brand and can show your customers that your reviews are genuine and authentic.
Responding to negative reviews online is a great way to show you care about customer satisfaction and gain customers’ respect. You can earn their trust through true testimonials of your products and services, even (–especially) if a few here and there are negative.
If you are looking for some more in-depth or one-on-one help with your reputation management, UpSwell can help! We even offer a free initial marketing assessment to better understand your business and give you an edge.