Every company shares the same fear online. Negative reviews.
When you are growing an online presence and asking customers to leave you feedback it is only a matter of time until you have an unhappy customer leave you feedback that you would rather not have in the public domain.
Let’s face it, no business is perfect – and even the most efficient business can’t please everyone.
The main thing to remember is that a negative review, when managed correctly, can become a positive customer experience.
So, treat it as a challenge and a learning experience rather than beating yourself up over it.
Find out the Facts
First off, have a look at the review carefully. Look through the history and work out exactly what has upset the customer and how it could have been handled differently. You must also establish the legitimacy of the review.
You should aim to respond to the feedback as quickly as possible. Research suggests that in today’s world of connectivity consumers on social media expect a response to their complaints or negative review within 1 hour.
Understandably this can’t always be achieved without a full-time social media team, but try to at least go back to the customer as a priority. The quicker you acknowledge a complaint or bad review, the quicker you can take control of it.
Respond to the negative review in a helpful and sympathetic manner. Establish a human connection and let the customer know that their opinion is valued and being addressed by a real person who cares.
Sometimes it can just be that the customer wants to voice their frustration.
Respond Publicly First
Although it is important to contact the customer directly in private to try and resolve their negative experience, it is equally important to show other customers that as a company you care.
Make sure that you respond to the complaint by apologising and offering a direct line of communication to try and resolve the problem for the client.
Don’t Wait for Them to Make the First Move
Even after publicly acknowledging and offering a point of contact, do not wait for the customer to make the first move. Contact them directly and reiterate what you have said in the public response. Let them know that you acknowledge their feedback and would like to either resolve the issue or put measures in place to ensure it does not happen again in the future.
Come to a Fair Resolution
The saying “the customer is always right” is not always true. Sometimes the customer is actually in the wrong with their opinion on the feedback that they have left; sometimes they are unfair, or over egg. If that is the case, then just bite the bullet and move on.
When coming to resolve the issue you need to make sure that it is reasonable for both parties. You can’t go offering £100’s in compensation to apologise but you could offer a refund or a swap depending on what it is that has caused the upset.
Losing a small margin or taking a hit in return for a happy customer may be worth it as long as it is not going to damage your business by doing so.
Learn from the Feedback and Grow as a Business
If you are genuinely in the wrong (there is no shame in this, nobody is perfect) then learn how to improve the issue so that it does not happen again. Or, at least work to improve the situation.
Close the Feedback
Once you have come to a conclusion make sure that you remind the customer of the negative feedback and thank them for bringing it to your attention. Ask if they could respond to the feedback and give feedback on how the complaint was handled.
Don’t Ask Them to Remove the Feedback
Having proof that you care about what your customers feel and are ready to take ownership of a problem is far more powerful than you would think. AutoTrader regularly report that customers find car dealers who have been seen to act upon bad feedback more trustworthy than those with 100% glistening reviews.
Record for the Future
Make sure that once the complaint is dealt with that you record the complaint and the actions that are taken to resolve it. It is very important that you are able to find trends in complaints to improve the way that you do business.
As a closing thought – don’t stress about bad feedback and reviews. They are nothing to be ashamed of and can often be a big opportunity to show both existing and future customers how you react when things don’t go to plan. Remember that 90% of happy customers will be silent whereas 90% of unhappy customers will speak up.
Over time, as long as you maintain a high-quality service you have nothing to worry about.