— July 5, 2018
Online reviews are important, which makes it no surprise that nobody wants to get a negative review. It’s hard to read and can damage your company in the public eye. Unfortunately, every now and again, it happens. There are a few people that are dead set on making sure that the rest of the world knows about their bad experience and they jump at the opportunity to post a review. The important thing to do in this situation is to respond and try and resolve the situation.
Ignoring a bad review only makes things worse and personal responses go a long way. In fact, after you reach out people may even decide to change their review because of the outstanding customer service you displayed. If they don’t change it, your response still makes a difference, In fact, 30% of people say that they judge local businesses based on whether or not they respond to these types of reviews1.
While the goal is to get more positive online reviews, responding to negative ones are more important than ever. Keep reading to find out how to respond to negative reviews in a way that will elicit a change of heart in your customers. Remember, it’s all about customer service and communication.
Best Practices for Negative Reviews
Consider the Whole
While one person may have left you a negative review, you need to consider the whole when replying. If the review is already public your reply will be addressing not only the customer, but everyone who sees it and reads it online (including future potential customers). When you reply in a way that considers the whole, it allows you to show everyone that your company is dedicated to making sure that every customer is happy. It helps show prospective customers that you aren’t neglectful to your customers and that you want to actively make sure it doesn’t happen again.
If you’re responding in private, reply the same way. Make sure that customers understand that you value their feedback and want to make changes to avoid the situation in the future. Responding privately before having a review go live is highly encouraged as sometimes people will end up changing their reviews after your customer service.
During your response make sure that you take time to directly acknowledge your customer and give them a sincere apology about their experience and whatever the complaint is about. It doesn’t matter how rude or downright hurtful their comment is, always stay positive. Losing your temper with a customer is never an acceptable answer and when it happens during feedback for a negative review, you’ll do way more harm than simply ignoring it would have done. In fact, people will be more impacted by the way that you handle the situation than by what people said in the first place, so stay upbeat regardless of their tone and potentially harsh words about your company.
Verify the Customer
If you don’t know who the customer that makes the negative review is, make sure you verify their information. This allows you to look at their specific instance, verify that they indeed did do business with you and address them personally and specifically to their situation. Knowing who a customer is will help you figure out the best course of action to take to resolve the problem.
Once you verify the customer, try to keep the conversation offline and in private while you resolve the issues. Set up a system that allows you to be notified when you receive a negative review so that you can take immediate action and surpass their expectations for customer service.
Ask for More Information
If verification doesn’t give you all of the information you need to address the situation with expertise, ask the customer for more information. Getting more detail about why they feel the way they do is how you can further clarify exactly where things went wrong. Understanding the customer is the first step in responding genuinely. A lot of the times it may be a minor misunderstanding and can be easily resolved, but you won’t find out without communication.
Offer a Solution
The most important step in the process of dealing with negative online reviews is offering a solution or remedy to the problem. Your goal is to make sure that after your interaction, the customer leaves happy. Offer solutions based on the information that you have gathered about their specific case. You might consider providing an extra service, giving a discount on their next purchase or even refunding a part of their costs. What you decide to do depends on your business, but taking a financial loss can be worth it if the customer is extremely upset/angry.
When you offer a solution that the customer thinks is fair, it allows both of you to end your conversation on a good note and is the difference between an unhappy customer and a happy one.
Ask for Updated Review
If you’re able to offer the customer a solution that they agree with, ask them if they wouldn’t mind updating their review. When businesses go the extra mile in customer service, most people won’t stick to their original review. If the company speaks to them with respect and concern, more often than not people will take the time to give you an updated review.
Implement a System
The best way to respond to negative online reviews is offline during a private conversation. Unfortunately, when people post reviews directly to service sites, you don’t get a chance to do this. Putting a system in place that focuses on handling negative reviews will alert you whenever someone leaves a 3 or lower. This allows you to directly reach out and handle the negative review before it goes live. It’s a huge help in turning negative reviews into positive ones.
Don’t Forget to Respond to Positivity Too
While many businesses get caught up in responding to negative reviews, don’t forget to take some time to respond to your positive reviewers too. Responding to positive reviews can help foster communication and increase customer loyalty.
Negative reviews have the potential to ruin a business. Don’t risk this happening to you. Instead, put a system in place that allows you to handle negative reviews prior to them going public.