Here are 5 tips your business can use to respond to negative reviews:
1. Don’t ignore your customers' negative experiences
Almost 26% of consumers see responding to reviews as an important part of business activity. You will have to start looking at this activity as a way to build a meaningful relationship with your customers and your critics.
You have to actively participate while conversations around a negative review are going on, get an understanding of the situation, and answer every question that comes your way. Ignoring your bad reviews is the worst thing you could possibly do!
While we understand long threads of disappointing rants might serve as a tough read, some points will actually give you some insights on where your business is faltering.
Strike up a two-way conversation with customers, ask them where they have felt difficulties, find the areas that need improvements, and let them know publicly that you’ll work on them.
Once you have addressed the issue, make sure you thank your customers. It makes them feel like their suggestions are valued, and it shows you care.
Engaging with your customers also gives you a chance to tell your side of the story, which might alter customer opinions.
2. Keep your ego out of it
There is a lot of passion that runs when you start your business, but it shouldn’t make you egocentric. You cannot expect to have the authority of an established brand as your business grows, no matter how great your product or service is.
People take their time to trust you and your company, and it’s never only about the product.
Start by being absolutely objective - set your pride aside and address customer issues with utmost humility.
Customers can be threatening at times - they will try to project their authority, frustrations and criticisms on you. In such cases, it’s important to react with your brain, not with your heart.
Here are a few tips to help you deal with a difficult customer-related situation:
- Cut certain phrases when dealing with the customer. Do not use any of the following: I think, I feel. They make it all about you. Customers want to feel like they're being listened to. They've had a bad experience, and want you to make things right.
- Give facts, not sob stories. Make sure you’re trying to fix the problem. It's better if you keep your conversation strictly professional.
- Don’t take it personally if want to handle the crisis. Keep in mind that the customer is upset with the product, and not with you specifically.
Here's a great example of how to respond to negative feedback professionally
3. Approach the problem with a positive mindset
No matter how big or small the problem is, be prepared to take some tough criticism, and learn to approach the feedback with reason. The only way to turn a bad review into a positive one is to roll with the punches.
Research has shown that businesses able to address service failures quickly and properly have a higher chance of gaining customer loyalty. It all boils down to how you handle unhappy customers. Remember, customers are stressed and their anger is triggered by an external stimulus that is perceived to be unfair; in this case - your business.
The moment you are able to understand the mind of an angry person, it makes you more empathetic. Now that you know where the frustration comes from, it’s time to start working on defusing it. The best way to deal with angry customers is to ask more questions...
Keep probing them, understand what caused the exasperation in the first place, and communicate how you will start working towards making amends. When they see that you are taking them seriously, you’ll earn their trust back, gradually.
Once you have solved the problem, start working on building a rapport again. Thank them for pointing you to the problem areas of your product and tell them how you’ll make sure the problem does not happen again.
Keep in touch with them, and see if things have improved for them. A neatly-executed service recovery goes a long way in fostering a strong association. Indeed, research shows that if a business resolves an issue quickly and efficiently, 95% of unhappy customers will return back to your business.
4. Apologise and provide a solution
An apology is important, but be careful not to overdo it. Saying sorry all the time can make you look ineffective, and can lead to the customer losing confidence in you.
When handling a bad review, you need to treat the strained customer relationship with equal and mutual respect in order to create a more conducive environment for your business to manage negative feedback.
Apologise once, and provide real-time, actionable and easy solutions. This makes you look both decisive and caring, characteristics that can change customer perception for the better.
Here's a way you could respond:
We are really sorry to hear about that. Our owner, James Piper, would like to personally speak with you regarding your terrible experience. We believe he will be able to provide you with the best solution to your problem. We really appreciate your feedback. Have a nice day.
Always try to incorporate the following in your replies:
- Empathy - Trying to understand the pain of the customer
- Helpful - Redirecting to the owner or someone more senior
- Valuable - Highlighting the benefits of talking to the owner or someone more senior
- Positive - Ending the conversation on a happy note.
5. Don't promise what you can't deliver
A bad review might lead you to make promises just to make sure the customer is relieved.
You might think it's a temporary fix, but when your business can’t meet expectations, the initial problem is exacerbated.
When customers leave a negative review, they have very little faith in your business. Furthermore, when you try to cover yourself with fake promises, you’re digging a grave for whatever is left of your reputation. The customer will lose all trust and, most likely, never do business with you again.
Be honest. It may sound cliche but it works. If, for whatever reason, you can’t meet customer expectations, give them the real picture. Understand the problem and give plausible solutions. It might not be what customers want to hear, but they will eventually respect you for telling the truth.
To sum up...
Responding to negative reviews can be challenging, but it also reveals a lot about how much your company cares about its customers. Whether you're a new business or a brand with a hundred-year-old legacy, being empathetic to a customer's problem needs to be the foundation of your reputation management strategy.
When customers see a lack of understanding from your side, it makes them reconsider, whether to continue doing business with you or not. As a general rule of thumb, remember no bad reviews (even good ones) should be left unanswered, and respond quickly to take control of the situation before it goes out of hand. After you make contact, use the above points to enable your new business to respond to negative reviews in a more tasteful manner.
Download a free copy of our Bad Reviews report, and find out how negative feedback can help you improve, innovate, and grow your business in the long run.