The majority of businesses have to handle negative reviews or social media comments at some time or another. Whether a customer was justified in writing the review or not, the situation is one that can actually benefit your company if you deal with it the right way.
Usually, these kinds of reviews are more damaging when they are posted online because they can turn potential customers off. They can also damage your reputation, which can have negative long-term effects.
Have a Plan in Place
When you have a plan that outlines how you will respond to negative reviews, you can respond more quickly and efficiently, which brings much better results. This kind of plan also keeps you organised and consistent, which is important when it comes to online marketing.
Your plan could outline who is responsible for responding to online reviews, what your general policy is and what you will and will not do when you get negative reviews. A plan will also ensure your employees respond professionally and that they are helpful.
Always Listen First
Before you fire off a response, whether good or bad, listen to what the reviewer is saying first. Whether the review was professional or not, try to focus on what the customer is saying so you can find out what the issue is. When you strive for understanding, you’ll not only handle the review more professionally, but you’ll also be able to use it to benefit your company.
Seek Clarification if Necessary
If you need to, reach out to the customer to ask for clarification. Use this to accomplish two things: learn how you can do better and clear up any confusion the customer has. In some cases, a customer may be unhappy just because there is a misunderstanding. Regardless of the situation, seeking clarification can help you prepare a better response and address the issue.
If people browse review sites or look at your social media accounts and see negative reviews that don’t have responses, they may think poorly of your business. They will think you don’t care what your customers think, are out of the loop or worse, aren’t willing to make sure the people you do business with are 100 percent satisfied.
Responding publicly gives you a chance to meet the unhappy customer where she is and show everyone else who is watching that you are listening and ready to help.
Always, always respond professionally to negative comments. This is essential both offline and online, but it is especially important online where your response will quickly be seen by many, many people.
As you respond, try to address the problem there. Express your concern that the customer had a bad experience and do what you can to rectify the situation. If you need to, direct the customer to an online support tool or give her a phone number she can call to receive additional help.
Track Reviews and Common Themes to Take Action
Find some way, whether it’s by creating an in-depth spreadsheet or keeping a list on a notepad, of tracking what kinds of negative reviews your business gets. It’s especially important to note common themes or related issues.
Then, address these issues whenever possible. If several of your reviews mention that your website is slow and hard to use, take action by redesigning it. If it’s appropriate, tell your market that you have taken action by highlighting the change on social media or in your responses to reviews.
Negative online reviews can be a problem, but they can also bring opportunities that can help you show your market you want to make sure your customers are satisfied and are listening and taking action.