Consumers are increasingly relying on the opinion of others when making purchase decisions. As a result, negative reviews top the list of business nightmares for most small business owners. More so, if the review posted by a customer is perceived as clearly irrational, unfair, and biased or coming from someone who is a regular complainer. Irrespective of whether you think the review is unfair or shows authentic concerns of the customer, you have got to deal with it with utmost tact and discretion.
From a business point of view, just a few negative reviews on your business listing pages can adversely influence a customer’s buying decisions and possibly drive him away to your competitors, affecting your ranking on the consumer review sites.
No matter how well you do to improve the customer’s experience with your business, negative reviews are bound to happen. Remember, even the best businesses that are market leaders in their segments do receive negative reviews. So it’s important to learn and master the tricky and delicate art of dealing with negative reviews and feedback. Here are some ways to deal with them should they occur:
Make sure to find time to make it right with your unhappy customers and respond to each of the negative reviews promptly. Acknowledge that you have made a mistake and offer apologies, even if you think there is no merit to the negative review posted by the customer. In any case, avoid getting into an argument publicly as it will only make the matter worse.
Offer to Mend the Situation:
If a customer’s concern is justified, offer to make amends in any reasonable way possible or offer some kind of compensation. Replacing a product or service the customer is unhappy with, may often lead to the customer changing their feedback on the review site. Even if your counteroffer doesn’t please the customer, this can at least serve as a sign of goodwill and reflect publicly to other potential customers that you do care for your business customers.
Resolve the Issue:
The manner in which you respond to negative reviews and the efforts you take to make an angry customer happy can speak volumes about how other customers perceive your business conduct. Regardless of whether the review is justified or not, your efforts to compensate for a bad customer experience will say more about your business than even the positive reviews you receive. If the situation demands it, you may consider taking the issue offline by responding privately to resolve the issue.
Be Polite and Constructive:
After all the hard work you put in to run your business and improve customer experience, it’s natural to feel upset or angry when you receive a negative review or feedback. When this happens, just take some time off to cool yourself down and calmly think how to best deal with the situation. Always be constructive in your approach and never ever sound rude, aggressive or resort to personal insults.
Encourage Customer Reviews:
Be active on your social media pages and review sites and always encourage your customers to proactively share their experiences and feedback about your products and services. Most consumers are mature enough to ignore a few odd negative reviews in a pool of several positive reviews. Sometimes, your efforts to make an angry customer happy can result in a stronger relationship with him than before.
Use Negative Reviews to Improve Your Business:
Try and look at the brighter side of things by looking at each negative review as an opportunity to improve your business products and services, both for the reviewer and your future customers. A series of negative reviews can help you identify common trends and issues faced by customers. In the long run, they can help you gauge accurately what your customer needs and expectations are, which will eventually reduce the number of negative reviews you may receive in the future.
Consider Reporting Fake Reviews:
If you really doubt the legitimacy of the negative review posted, suspect fraud, or the review being posted by a competitor, or contains profanity, contact the review site and request for the review to be removed. The review will most likely not be removed but it’s worth giving a try. Most review sites have their own policy for removal of reviews, and even if they conform to your request, this may be a very slow process.
Most importantly, share the valid feedbacks with your employees and make sure everyone is on the same page to prevent future problems. Providing outstanding customer experience should be your topmost priority, given how social networks can quickly spread a negative customer experience. Remember that no one expects your business to be perfect and a few negative reviews probably won’t drive your customers away. Just make the efforts to make it right and show your customers that you really care.