Negative reviews are a fact of life. No matter how great your product is or how refined your services are, bad customer experiences will still happen. People are often eager to share their negative experiences online and it is a business owner’s responsibility to handle that rationally.
You can’t just ignore negative feedback and hope for the best because that leaves the issue unresolved. Most businesses don’t have a policy in place that helps employees respond to negative feedback positively. Here’s a small collection of tips that can make responding easier:
- Be Calm Before Responding
Most business owners are personally invested in their company’s success and reputation. They believe in their products and are proud of the services they offer, which means there’s always a temptation to respond defensively. Take a small break and calm your emotions before trying to respond. Disregard your first and instinctive response because that is likely to upset your customer and harm the company’s reputation.
- Respond Promptly
While it is important to take some time to respond thoughtfully, you also need to be prompt. A quick response shows a business’s commitment towards customer satisfaction, letting customers know the company values their opinion. It is a good idea to respond within 24 hours and resolve the situation as quickly as you can. This shows you have good customer service, which helps turn a negative review into a positive experience.
- Be Thoughtful in Your Response
Negative feedback can be a learning experience, especially for newly established businesses. While it may feel like a personal failure, it is a good idea to consider such feedback objectively. Respond thoughtfully by asking questions and engaging in an open dialogue. Don’t dismiss your customer’s concerns off the bat and keep the language as respectful as possible.
- Always Be Honest
Customers know that businesses aren’t perfect and even the best brands can make mistakes. They are willing to forgive bad experiences if you work to correct the mistake. The best approach to an authentic negative review is to reply with honesty and earnestness. For example, if a customer had a bad experience with a store employee, the business can accept the criticism by apologizing and stating that they will improve employee training policies and reprimand the person involved. Admitting to a mistake isn’t a sign of weakness, especially not in a business environment. Modern customers appreciate a genuine response and will have a better impression of your company if you handle negative feedback well.
- Provide a Customized Response
Modern customers are always looking for authentic experiences. They don’t want to deal with bots, automated responses, and half-hearted attempts at rectifying the situation. You can use bots for the first response, especially if you monitor online reviews through an automated system. However, make sure a dedicated customer care executive is handling the rest of the conversation. Offer a customized response and make the conversation personal as it will help the customers feel valued.
- Take the Conversation Offline
It is easier to handle the complaint through messages and phone calls instead of engaging in a conversation on a review platform. Ask the customer for their contact information or request personal contact. This allows you to communicate directly so the situation can be handled without delay. Some companies hesitate to do this because they don’t want to leave an open-ended conversation on review platforms. You can always ask the customer to write a follow-up review of their experience with the customer care team. Positive feedback at this stage will only improve your company’s reputation.
- Always be Thankful
Negative feedback can help you improve your product and services. Honest and unbiased reviews have helped many successful companies develop better products or refine how they deal with clients. For example, many customers leave reviews like, ‘They left a mess after the job was done and I had to spend hours cleaning up.’ This gives businesses the opportunity to identify a hole in their service and correct it.
You can offer a free service as compensation and alter the service to include site clean up after a job. That improves customer satisfaction, which can have a positive impact on the brand’s reputation. Thanking the customers for their negative feedback and telling them how you have improved your services to avoid similar future incidents will impress everyone.
- Offer Compensation
Offer compensation for any discomfort or hardship the customer may have experienced. This can be anything from a complete refund to a free product or service. In most cases, compensation isn’t necessary and quick assistance is enough to placate customers. If the mistake does cause some form of personal, emotional, or financial damage, offering compensation can help.
For example, if a staff member was rude to a customer based on their appearance, you will need to offer some sort of compensation to appease them as just reprimanding the employee isn’t enough. Make sure the compensation is substantial enough to make an impact but still fits into your budget.
- Don’t Let Them Bully You
Sometimes reviews are just frivolous or deliberate attacks. Some competitors ask their employees to leave fake negative feedback on their rival’s profile. Many customers post negative reviews simply because they are dissatisfied with some aspect of your business but not the quality of products and services. Fortunately, all review platforms provide tools to handle fake or unwarranted negative reviews. You should take action if a competitor is trying to sabotage your reputation.
Always respond quickly, thoughtfully, and carefully to criticism, whether they are unwarranted or not. A good response will help your business in the long run.
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial drive, and have been in business since I was just 25 years old. Over the past 24 years, I co-owned two software development companies that serviced the funeral profession, where I met a myriad of incredible people, many of whom I still keep in touch with today. I became a guest speaker and member of some great funeral service associations alongside amazing business professionals. In 2016 I was ready for a change and made the decision to start my very first company, on my own, and I haven’t looked back since! Starting YourSocialStrategy.com from the ground up has had its challenges, growing pains, and some ups and downs, but growing my team and seeing the work we do has been nothing short of astounding.
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