When you have a business either online, in person or both, you quickly learn that collecting online reviews is essential to boosting your authority, increasing visibility and beating out the competition. But with collecting those reviews comes the risk of receiving occasional negative feedback. It comes with the territory and a negative review here and there happens to every single business–it’s only a matter of time!
But don’t panic! And certainly do not let the possibility of a bad review deter you from asking for these testimonials. They are incredibly valuable and well worth the effort! All you need is a level head and a solid plan for managing negative reviews.
1. Acknowledge Negative Reviews and Respond Thoughtfully
When a negative review is posted to Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook or any other social platform, the first thing you need to do is respond quickly, in a very calm and professional manner. It’s important to acknowledge the issue even if the customer is mistaken or out of line. Thank them for bringing the problem to your attention and then offer to take the conversation offline. What’s interesting about online reviews is that people rarely leave a positive review unprompted. But when someone has a poor or particularly unpleasant experience, they are ready to spring into action! Think about the last time you felt ripped off, mistreated or disrespected by a business or brand. You want to be heard, right? You want someone to acknowledge your experience.
Your customers want the same thing, even if it was a simple misunderstanding. If you manage to calmly validate their experience in a public forum like Google My Business, you will likely attract the attention of current and potential customers. Show them that you are a grown-up, unafraid to admit to missteps and willing to listen to – and learn from – your customers at every opportunity.
2. Demonstrate Great Customer Service in Your Response
Again, even if you don’t think the customer is right, an apology may be the simplest answer to getting back to even footing. A simple apology can appease the customer while also demonstrating that you care about providing excellent customer service.
It’s possible that an explanation is in order, however, please consider taking the conversation offline quickly. This way you can get into the details when needed without the risk of making a potentially inflammatory conversation public. Moving the conversation to email or to a support desk will also allow you to pull in other team members and maintain an efficient paper trail.
Even though most unhappy customers prefer an apology over compensation, you still need to compensate them appropriately. Be willing to incentivize your customer to use your business again. Deep discounts on their next purchase, gift cards and the like are all great starting points.
3. Personalize Your Response
Using personalization to respond to negative comments on social media will help you boost your sales. Aside from addressing the customer’s first name, provide an individualized solution to resolve your customer’s specific problem. And make a solid effort to sound like a real human in your response, providing an authentic solution that addresses your customer’s concerns.
For larger teams, you may want to consider assigning a customer happiness specialist to follow-up with dissatisfied customers. A relationship can be built on past mistakes and having a highly responsive and empathic member of your team to follow up with these customers could actually transform failure into huge wins down the road. If you’re open and responsive to unhappy clients, there could be a massive opportunity to turn those folks into legitimate brand ambassadors down the line!
It can be tough to receive and effectively respond to negative comments, but it’s all part of maintaining your integrity as a business. It’s important to realize that it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ these negative reviews bubble to the surface. Five star reviews all the time into eternity just isn’t realistic. In fact, if you collect hundreds of reviews that are positively stellar–how authentic can your business really be? No one is perfect and neither is your business 😉