Feeling bad is understandable, but instead of wallowing in self-pity, it’s better to take action.
You have a dissatisfied customer, and one who has publicized their bad experience and negative opinion about your business.
But how can you combat those public negative reviews?
At first glance, it may seem impossible- you can’t magically make it go away, but there are a few tried and true steps you can take towards turning the negative situation into a positive one.
Take a deep breath and calm down
If you come across negative reviews about your business, the first step should always be to pause, take some deep breaths, and analyze the situation.
It’s important to remember not to let your emotions get the better of you.
Replying right away when you’re still upset is never a good idea.
Stand up, take a break, cool down. Never respond to the customer when you’re upset.
Consider coming up with a fixed set of review responses.
These can help provide a starting point when dealing with negative reviews.
This doesn’t mean to use the same response time and time again- but it can get you started. Take the fixed response and customize it to the customer and situation.
Another recommendation is to get a second opinion.
After you compose your response, but before publishing it, ask an impartial third party to read it.
Does it come across professional? Caring? Does it offer a reasonable solution? Two heads are better than one, and getting a second opinion can help you more effectively resolve the issue.
You have to address the negative reviews
You may think that by ignoring those negative reviews, it will somehow go away.
When a customer go the trouble of posting a review on social media, they expect an answer fast. 42% of customers expect an answer within an hour.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
You’re dealing with someone who was upset enough to take time out of their day to publically express what a bad experience they had with your company.
Every day you don’t address the complaint, you make things worse.
The customers are likely to become upset that you didn’t care enough to respond, while the negative reviews are sitting there tarnishing your company’s reputation.
By not responding, you’re sending the message that you don’t care what kind of experience customers have with your business.
Sometimes all it takes is letting the customer know you heard them, and that the experience they had is important to you.
Let them know you are happy to resolve the issue for them. Make every effort to respond quickly and resolve the issue in one step.
This is also known as “first contact resolution.” Studies show that customers who receive satisfactory resolution in just one “transaction” are twice as likely to purchase your product or service again.
You can also use negative reviews as a way to stand out from the competition.
Not everyone takes the time to respond to negative reviews, so being one who DOES can really set you apart from your competitors.
Can you see how imperative it is to make your customers feel appreciated and heard?
Resolve the issue
Don’t only respond to negative reviews; fix the problem, too.
In some cases, depending on the situation, it may mean asking the customer to contact you by phone or to stop by your place of business so you can discuss the issue/problem in person.
When you show you’re actively trying to fix the problem, that shows the customer (and others) that you truly want to solve the issue.
With trust in reviews as high as it is, going the extra mile is important.
Not only does fixing the issue make that customer happier, other potential customers will also see how important customer satisfaction is to your business.
Find the silver lining
At first glance it may seem that there’s nothing positive about getting negative reviews, but take the time to really analyze what the customer wrote.
Maybe they received bad customer service? Was there a particular service or product that didn’t meet their expectations? Maybe there’s something not working at a particular location?
Instead of feeling bad about the negative reviews, look at this as an opportunity to make improvements that will ultimately result in a better experience for your future customers.
Customer service is now very public
Can you remember the last time you picked up the phone and called a business?
More than likely it’s not something you are in the habit of doing anymore, and you’re not alone.
Studies show that 75% of customers find that it takes way too long to get a live person on the phone. The alternative? Customers are turning to social media and online forums to get customer service and make their voices heard.
Customers are used to the business hours of operation at a brick and mortar location, which may be one of the reasons they’re less likely to call when they have an issue.
But the Internet doesn’t close. They can wait until the kids are in bed to sit down and write what’s on their mind.
They expect a quick response, and they know they’ll likely get it, since they’re using a public forum.
Gone are the days when a problem was between the client and manager. Everything is now in the public eye, and people are watching you to see how you’ll handle it.
It’s important to remember this when you find yourself dealing with negative reviews. Everything that you say to the customer is public– anyone can see it, both now and in the future.
It’s important to handle the issue professionally, and that means you don’t want to get into an online fight.
Never respond more than twice to the same customer on an online forum.
The best thing you can do to handle someone who is calling you out online, is to take the discussion elsewhere.
Let them know you understand they’ve had an issue, and you’re eager to help resolve it for them, and then ask them to call you.
They may or may not call—the important thing is that everyone will be able to see that you made an effort to reach out to the dissatisfied customer, and that shows that you care.
Ask for a second chance
If you had a dissatisfied customer that you worked with to resolve the issue, why not politely ask them to update the negative review, now that you’ve taken care of the situation?
Imagine the satisfaction you’ll feel if you can turn a negative review into a positive one! Now that’s winning.
The positives weigh down the negatives
If you’ve gotten negative reviews about your business, and reaching out to the customer to get it changed hasn’t worked, you’ll want to try to drown it out with positive reviews.
Jonah Berger, a Professor at UPenn did a research and found out that negative buzz can increase sales.
Reviews appear in chronological order, and usually only the 10 most recent show up on the first page.
Customers aren’t likely to click “next” to read beyond those 10, so you don’t need that many good reviews to push down the bad one.
Consider offering a small freebie or coupon code in exchange for their honest feedback, or use a review generation tool to generate more good reviews and a positive overall online reputation.
Read those reviews!
While it may seem tempting to sit back and pretend that your online reviews don’t exist, it’s not in your company’s best interest to ignore them.
What are customers saying about your business?
Do you have negative reviews? Are you getting consistent 5-star reviews? What can you do to improve? You can use a review monitoring tool to access the top online review sites, and see what your customers are saying about your business.
Stay in the know, and respond to both good and bad reviews ASAP.
Let’s be realistic. Some people are just plain mean. There’s nothing you can do about it. But you can control how you react.
So to recap — Make sure you keep an eye on your reviews, you also need respond to negative reviews quickly but carefully and never respond when you are upset.
By doing this, you will show the world how much you care about your customers.
It’s always been part of the plan. We started with food, because honestly in the first few years of the company, we wanted to focus on building a real high-quality consumer brand. Once we had achieved that outcome, then we thought it would be the right time to expand into new verticals.