5 Tips for Responding to Negative Customer Feedback
The Art of the Response.
So what do you do when you get slammed online for your service or product? It's true, negative reviews and comments can feel like a 'punch to the gut' and as human beings first, it may be tempting to slam right back. But think about this: four out of five consumers have changed their minds about a recommended purchase, whether it be a product or service, based solely on the negative information they found online - that's 80 out of 100 people!
With that in mind, our first initial response may not be the best course of action. I have put together 5 tips for you to consider and implement should the time come - and the fact is, it's not a question of if, merely a when.
1. Have a Game Plan
This is crucial so that you are not caught unaware, and then left wondering how to handle a negative online situation. This game plan includes:
Making sure that you have alerts set up for your company name, services and products. This way you won't be behind the proverbial 8 ball when the time comes to deal with some negativity.
Decide in advance what you are willing to respond to and what you are not. For example, if someone goes full frontal assault on you with cursing and negative ranting, decide what rules you are willing to play by. It is always recommended to take the high road but that definitely doesn't mean ignoring the issue.
2. Understand the Tools that you Can Use
Depending on where the negative comments originated from, you have options in how to respond. Get to know what those options are based on what platforms your company uses as well as your possible clients. As an example, on Google My Business, owners of their business account can respond to reviews given as well as delete & edit reviews. They have full control. This is not true on all platforms so know which ones you can and cannot respond to.
3. Don't Ignore it. It Won't Go Away.
Although it may be tempting to ignore it, especially if you don't consider it big enough to warrant your attention, you are inviting the negativity to gain traction by ignoring it altogether. Fires can spread quickly and you definitely don't want this. If something is gaining traction, you want to get in the conversation and help to calm it down. Explain your side of the story, with respect, and see what happens. If it still escalates further, offer an apology for the fact that there may be a misunderstanding and offer the 'attacker' the opportunity to converse with you offline. If you can, and it seems appropriate to do so, offer a solution online for all to see. It will serve you in the long run to give your solution publicly so that others may see you are proactive when dealing with issues and that you are ultimately, looking to make your client happy and are capable of offering a resolution.
4. Learn how to Turn the Negative into a Positive
The silver lining with negative reviews, is that it gives your company the opportunity to determine if and what are areas that can be targeted for improvement. Even if it's only one customer, take the chance to assess the validity of the comments - it may be that you can make incremental, slight improvements based on the feedback you get once in a while. And for Bonus Points - share the story on your social channels so that your customers see you are a proactive, caring company - and be authentic about it.
5. Study how Others have Handled Negativity Online - Learn from the Masters
If you want to see how others handle similar situations, then study them. Do a quick search online for 'great examples of managing negative customer reviews online'. Check out this post for even more great examples that you can learn from. Remember, a review is only as good as its response!
Just remember - negative reviews can help potential customers feel like they have 'done their homework' which moves them further towards the purchase making decision. Showing them how you respond to any negativity can only serve you and your company well - if done in a way that resolves the situation and ends in some sort of understanding by both parties.
So when your business gets slammed online, whether it be a legit complaint or by a disgruntled, not legit customer complaint, you can't afford to ignore it. But you can turn those lemons into lemonade.