If you put yourself out there as a business, you better prepare for dealing with unsatisfied customers.
Since consumers have developed a habit of checking online reviews before purchasing a product, it’s in your best interest to learn how to handle negative reviews.
If you do it right, you can actually gain a lot – recovering from a mistake sometimes helps brands to develop stronger relationships with customers. Researchers claim that positive service recovery leads to a higher level of customer satisfaction and loyalty as compared to situations in which nothing goes wrong. After all, we’re just people and we all make mistakes.
Here are 7 tips to help you handle negative reviews of your business.
1. Monitor your online presence
The first step to managing negative content is to be aware of its existence. You should regularly monitor what’s being said about your brand, who is saying it, on which platforms and what is the main influencer of their opinion. You can do it with the use of various social listening tools – some of them will cover much more than social media.
Reputation monitoring tools, for instance Social Mention, Reputology, or Review Trackerscan are all extremely useful in this regard. They often show valuable metrics like sentiment measurement, and they send you email alerts in case something interesting happens with your keyword. Many social media management tools have built-in monitoring capabilities – think Hootsuite or Sprout Social.
2. Learn how review websites work
This kind of knowledge is crucial since every consumer review site filters and ranks reviews in a different way. Some are like Yelp and use an algorithm to recommend reviews they think will be most helpful on the basis of various factors. Others will simply rank businesses based on star ratings – think Tripadvisor.
In the latter system, a 4-star review can hurt your rank more than no review at all. Knowing this will help you understand your current rank and actively encourage happy customers to leave positive five-star reviews.
3. Keep your calm and stay positive
So it happened – a customer left a negative review and now you have to deal with it. Before you act on it, take a deep breath and stay calm at all cost. It’s normal that you’d want to return fire, but this will hurt your brand – bickering on the web isn’t exactly a sign of professionalism, is it?
Instead, carefully examine the real nature of this feedback. Is it there because the product was not a good fit for the consumer? Is the complaint justified? Maybe it’s a misunderstanding or gossip published by your competitors.
In either case, you need to refrain from replying when influenced by emotions. Before you engage with this piece of information, decide what sort of solution is the most appropriate and then respond.
4. Respond to negative reviews with tact and understanding
Responding promptly to negative reviews is your best chance to show customers how you value their opinion. It will inspire the person who had a bad experience with your product to grant you a second chance.
If the complaint is justified, instantly acknowledge the mistake and apologize – even if that’s the last thing you want to do. You might be tempted to try to convince the reviewer that they’re wrong, but that kind of response won’t win you any fans, only an honest message will.
When apologizing, make sure to highlight the good things about your product as testament of how you take care of customers, for instance: ‘We’re very sorry to hear about your experience. We’ve been providing this kind of service to our clients for a decade and always strive to create great experiences for our customers’.
Make sure that the reviewer feels that their comment has been heard, acknowledged and properly addressed. Your response will be visible to the entire community.
5. Resolve the issue
Simply acknowledging and apologizing doesn’t make the problem go away. After you do this, the next step is to actually solve it. You’ll have to resolve the issue quickly, so make sure that your employees are empowered to do so and know how to act in such crisis situations. Sometimes you can ask the customer blatantly about how you can make up for your mistake, but it’s better to offer a solution yourself.
6. Encourage customers to leave positive reviews
Negative reviews will disappear and lose their power when surrounded by lots of positive reviews. That’s why it’s your job to continuously encourage happy customers to share their experiences online. Those who leave reviews are most often the same people who didn’t like their experience and want everyone to know about it. Inspiring happy customers to share their experience is crucial because it strengthens your online reputation.
7. Feel free to remove abusive content
Sometimes you might face a review that isn’t serious or uses abusive language. This is the right moment to simply remove it – the best way to do it is to contact the site owner and ask them to remove this damaging content. It might be a fake review written by a bitter competitor or a malicious smear campaign orchestrated by an angry former employee. Most review websites offer an option for reporting reviews that violate their terms of service so the law is on your side.
By following the tips listed above, you stand a real chance at transforming negative feedback into a powerful motivator for consumer satisfaction and loyalty. Listening closely to your audience and carefully analyzing negative reviews will provide you with valuable lessons. If you learn and apply those insights well, expect angry customers to become your most loyal brand evangelists.
About the Author
Torri Myler works for www.bankopening.co.uk – an online platform of UK bank branches featuring their contact details, opening times and closing hours. She has a strong background in customer service and online marketing. She trusts in the potential of anything tech and digital-related to give businesses a powerful boost.