With all the rating services on sites like Amazon and Yelp, it’s not a question of whether your business will receive a negative review, only when. Every business or service must know how to handle negative reviews. Here are some hints:
The best defense is a great offense
You don’t have to address negative reviews if you never have them in the first place. Proactively identify possible negative experiences and encourage customers to respond directly to you to resolve their issues. Here are some suggestions:
- Manage expectations up front. If you communicate that it takes two weeks to complete something, make sure it’s done in less time.
- Actively communicate your contact information at the time of ordering to make it easy to contact you directly to answer questions and fix problems.
- Contact customers within 24 hours after a sale or service to see if they have questions or concerns.
FIRST fix the problem
When you get a negative review, try to identify the customer and contact them directly. Then work with them to solve their problem. If a solution is not possible, be willing to cancel their service or refund their money. A disgruntled customer that hasn’t been hurt financially quickly becomes a toothless monster. Once this is done, try to have the customer remove their review if they are satisfied. OR even better, try to get them to rave about how you solved their problem!
Know your dissatisfied reviewer
Conduct research on the customer. Are they habitual complainers or bullies? The current public feedback forums have created many of these types. On the other hand, people easily get frustrated with poor service and are simply at their wit’s end. It’s important to know the difference.
Problems are opportunities
Inside every negative review is an opportunity to be better at what you do. Even with the review bullies, there is an element of truth to most reviews. Try to get past the emotional impact of the negative review and think of it as a gift to make your service better than everyone else’s.
Writing the response: FREE advertising
You’ve fixed the problem. You’ve researched the customer. You’ve looked for opportunities to be better at what you do. Now you are ready to publicly respond to the negative review. But — and this is important — you are not responding to the complainer. You are responding to future readers of the complaint! The formula of a great response is:
- Acknowledge the customer’s feelings.
- Restate the problem.
- Tell EVERYONE how you solved the problem.
- Encourage the complainer to contact you directly in the future so you can handle their issue more effectively than through a public forum.
- Tone is critical. The reviewer will likely be angry and frustrated. Use this to your advantage. Your tone must sound reasonable with a rational approach. When contrasting the two styles, readers will automatically see your business in a positive light, even when you make a mistake.
- DO NOT:
- Act defensive
- Act like a victim by over-apologizing
- Talk down to the disgruntled
- Make the customer appear or seem stupid
- Tell everyone how irrational this guy is … let readers figure this out on their own
- Get into a back and forth discussion
Time is of the essence
Try to complete your contact and response within 24 hours. This speed will impress all future readers. A lot must be done to reach this goal, but if you assign someone to monitor review services for you, and they are empowered to solve problems, you can accomplish this goal.
Today’s review systems give entirely too much power to a few complainers. Your goal should be to use these systems to your advantage to build your brand and find new buyers.