In business, negative online reviews can become a valuable tool for receiving feedback and engaging with customers. Rather than take the negative reviews personally, you can use these moments to show your true colors as a business that cares about customer satisfaction.
It’s easy to be kind and helpful when things are going well, but can you create a workplace culture that can navigate uncomfortable and challenging situations? Absolutely.
Online reviews matter and they can only help your business become more and more successful if you know how to handle the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Here are the ten most effective ways businesses can handle negative online reviews:
1. Respond Quickly
Most negative reviews happen almost immediately after the customer has interacted with your business. It’s an instant release of their frustration, anger, and ultimately a miscommunication of expectations.
The sooner they hear from you, the better for them and for your business. The quicker your response, the less damage you’ll have to clean up to maintain a positive online reputation.
2. Respond Honestly & Thoughtfully
Responding quickly to negative reviews does not mean responding with a knee-jerk reaction. There’s a big difference between reacting and responding. Respond honestly and thoughtfully to all customer feedback. If you dropped the ball, you dropped the ball, and you’re going to make it right.
If there was a misunderstanding on the customer end, it becomes an opportunity to refine your communications language to mirror appropriate expectations of your services and products. Even bad reviews have value for small business owners.
Put yourself in their shoes. Truly. Treat them with kindness and respect, and let them know that you’re listening.
3. Respond as if In-Person
How would you respond to unhappy customers in person? Most of us try to respond with kindness and the appropriate actions–starting with listening. Even unhappy customers are potential customers.
4. Customize Each Response
Handling negative reviews with a customized response shows that you genuinely care and leads to more of what you really want and need: good reviews. Listen and make it personal with a helpful response that erases their bad experience with your business.
5. Never Attack or Retaliate
Remember, your first response should keep in mind that the bad review was done by a real person. And other customers will see your reaction to an angry customer.
6. Show Your Appreciation for Their Feedback
Whether you’re dealing with happy customers or complaining customers, you’ll want to fine-tune a custom response of gratitude for the time they took to review your company and service. When other customers see how you handled a negative review with grace, you might find that it leads to more positive reviews in the future.
7. Go the Extra Mile
Just one extra step can make the upset customer feel like you’ve gone the extra mile for them. Maybe a simple apology isn’t enough in some scenarios. Offering a gift or a special offer can feel like a million bucks to so many of us who feel a company didn’t meet our expectations.
Reach down deep into empathy to handle negative customer reviews. And watch your garden of positive reviews grow.
8. Make It Right and Show the Customer
Take all reviews seriously–the negative ones and the positive ones. Take the negative online review to your employees, and come up with a plan to make sure it never happens again. Then show the person who left the negative comment what steps you’ve taken to make sure your entire team is devoted to creating a good customer experience.
9. Follow up With Unsatisfied Reviewers
Follow up with customers who have bad experiences with your company. Make sure their issue has been remedied. Perhaps they’d even be willing to remove their negative review to completely resolve the issue and its negative impact on your brand.
10. Encourage Satisfied Customers to Leave Reviews
A standard best practice when it comes to marketing is to ask customers who have had good experiences with your product or service to give you a positive review.
Bonus: Review Your Site Often
Make sure that as your products and services evolve, you update your website to reflect those changes. As a business owner, it’s in your best interest to manage customers’ expectations with clear and up-to-date information on your company website.