It’s no secret that online reviews can make or break a company. A 2010 American Express study of Australian consumers found that 40% always or often use online reviews to assess a company’s customer service, and that customers were more influenced by negative than positive feedback. With more and more people turning to the internet for information before selecting a particular service, it is vital that your company receives lots of positive reviews. But what do you do when you get a negative one?
Negative reviews, and how you respond to them, can be even more important than positive reviews for consumers who are deciding whether or not to use your service. Follow this step-by-step formula to effectively deal with negative feedback:
- Take a deep breath and stay calm
It’s easy to get worked up by negative reviews, especially when they are (in your opinion) unjustified. However, responding with anything other than a calm, polite message will appear unprofessional. Remember, prospective customers will usually side with the reviewer rather than the business.
- Read the site rules
Most review sites prohibit swearing and personal attacks, but some rules aren’t so obvious. For instance, some review sites don’t allow writing in all caps or links in responses. If your negative review breaches any of these rules you might be able to have the review removed from the site.
- Research the incident
Go back through your log-books and determine firstly that the customer actually was using your service. Also note who was involved and what exactly happened.
- Contact the reviewer privately
It is a good idea to first contact the customer privately, as it avoids having a lengthy conversation in public which could draw more attention to the negative feedback. Acknowledge their complaint, thank them for their feedback, apologise for the lack of 5-star service, and consider how you can make it up to them. Perhaps you can offer a partial refund. If the customer is satisfied with your apology, they might even remove their negative review.
- Respond publicly
If the customer’s negative review still stands, you will need to construct a public response. If you have spoken to the customer and resolved the issue, make sure to mention this in your response. If the customer is still unhappy, repeat the message you sent privately. Thank them for their response and apologise.
- Encourage positive reviews
The best way to draw attention away from negative reviews is to offset them with positive ones. Keep up the customer service and remind your happy customers of how they can leave a review for you.