Over the busy Christmas period, it’s easy for mistakes to be made – we’re only human, after all! Unfortunately though, unless dealt with swiftly, those mistakes can lead to dissatisfied customers, which leads to negative reviews, no matter how hard you might try. You might already have a procedure to deal with these, but if you’ve encountered your first one, don’t treat it as routine, or be blasé – Definitely don’t let it get you down – read carefully, then take action, so you can turn the negative review into a positive experience for both you and your customer.
Don’t forget, negative opportunities are also opportunities to identify and fix weaknesses in your processes to save time, money and improve the customer experience for more sales.
Your upset customer has turned to whichever means of leaving a review they can because they don’t feel like they’re being heard – or that they feel they won’t be heard, or have a satisfactory outcome if they do get through to you. So by ignoring their review, you’re confirming their worries, you’re giving them the opportunity to carry on telling people how bad their experience was, but you’re also allowing potential new customers to wonder whether you care or not, which will impact their decision on whether to buy from you.
2. Do respond; but take a moment first
If you feel the customer has been unfair, or has complained online before contacting you, it can be frustrating – so don’t respond at that moment. Take a minute to clear your head, talk it over (or rant about it!) with a colleague or acquaintance so you’re calm and collected when you write your response, otherwise you risk getting into a messy online battle, and nobody emerges a winner in those. And remember to re-read the review once you have calmed down, before you formulate your response.
3. Make the customer feel they are being heard
You need to acknowledge the issue directly, and make sure the customer feels valued when you propose a course of action. Ultimately, you want your customers to have had a great experience when they deal with you – that’s how you get repeat business, after all. This is a chance to win your upset customer over, and reassure new customers – so you need to do this carefully. Make sure they know you understand why they’re upset, and that you want to help resolve the issue.
As we mentioned already, you don’t want to get into an online war of words. So even where you feel the customer is in the wrong, apologise for an appropriate aspect – maybe communication, or the way that your website labels things wasn’t clear to them. You can word it carefully, e.g. “I’m sorry you feel this way”, if you think the complaint is unreasonable. Once you have a good, authentic response, (no pre-planned, canned responses here please) invite them to get in touch with you offline, so you can resolve the issue one way or another. Offline is better – it shows you really care, but if your customer decides to be unreasonable and won’t deal with the situation by phone or email, it’s better that you reiterate that you’re happy to try and resolve it offline, and leave it at that. Potential customers will see you tried, and be reassured that you will help them offline if they should encounter an issue.
5. Paint your business in a great light
You offer great customer service; this is your chance to show the world you do. Make sure whoever responds to the review uses their full name, and their role in the company, showing that you’re taking it seriously and not hiding from them. Once you’ve apologised, and addressed the complainant’s specific issue, say something along the lines of ‘we aim for all our customers to be satisfied with their order and the service they receive from us’, or one of your company’s aims as appropriate to their complaint – this will help reassure potential customers that you DO care.
But remember, a bad review isn’t necessarily bad news for you; you can’t please everyone, all the time, after all. Take the Ritz Hotel in London, for example. Considering it is one of the most famous hotels in London, renowned for their high standards, you might assume that everyone would be happy with the service they receive there; however, at the time of writing, there were over 4000 reviews on TripAdvisor, with over 100 reviewers rating the hotel as ‘Poor’ or ‘Terrible’.
Don’t worry; your negative reviews, as long as you deal with them well, can help to maintain your online presence as being authentic and trustworthy. And if you start encountering multiple bad reviews or complaints for the same area, feature or product, they can help you improve your business by identifying where you need to make improvements.