Businesses receive negative reviews for various reasons. Some customers choose to bring their complaints online because they expect an apology after experiencing a sub-par service or product. Others want a refund. And some reviewers wish to warn others about your supposedly less-than-superb offerings.
This blog post discusses the most common types of customer complaints and the biggest motivations behind them. We also provide you with actionable tips for handling each situation and how to respond to a negative review the right way.
Three Types of Customer Complaints
When customers post negative reviews, they want a response to the comments they made. Surveys show that 53 percent of customers expect firms to respond within a week. (ReviewTrackers, 2021).
As a rule, never delay responding to negative reviews. If you’re experiencing problems with review monitoring, it’s highly recommended to use online reputation management software to keep you abreast of any developments.
Responding better to negative business reviews requires careful planning and effective strategy. You also need to identify the type of negative customer reviews to craft the best response. Research from Corra explains that you can place customer complaints into three categories:
- Service Issues
- Product Issues
- Policy Issues
Service issues make up 52 percent of the total number of complaints, while 31.4 percent of customers complain about products they’ve used. The remaining 16.6 percent of customers complain about company policies.
Corra’s survey also presents interesting findings, which include the following:
- Eighty-eight percent of consumers will avoid companies because they read a bad review on social media.
- More than half of consumers will likely make a public complaint about a product or service issue.
- One in eight customers (12.8 percent) will post complaints to hurt a company’s reputation.
Craft your response to negative business reviews according to the type of complaint. Then, prepare to discuss your products, services and policies accordingly. Finally, consider the reasons behind negative customer reviews outlined in the following discussion.
Top 5 Reasons Why Customers Leave Negative Reviews
Your response to negative reviews will vary depending on the type of complaint and the customer’s reasons for posting them. Responding to negative reviews requires careful consideration, and reputation management consultants can help you craft the best responses.
- Customers want companies to apologize.
- Customers want to get a refund
- Customers want more upfront policies
- Customers want to spare others from getting the same experience
- Customers want to damage a company’s reputation
We’ll go over the details of these reasons and how to respond to a negative review in the sections below:
Reason #1: Customers Want an Apology
According to statistics, 38.9 percent of customers expect an apology when they leave negative customer reviews about a company. In this situation, the best bad review response is a direct and timely apology.
How to Respond: The only negative review response here is to give an apology. Unfortunately, there’s no other way around it. Apologize even if the problem wasn’t a shortcoming or error on your part. In addition, reach out and give the customer options to contact you, such as your customer service email and phone number. You can also offer to speak personally if that’s possible.
This bad review response shows you’re taking ownership of the problem, an excellent tactic for building customer trust. You are also letting others see that you listen to customers and care about their experience.
Reason #2: Customers Want To Get a Refund
The Corra study also shows that 48.3 percent of customers who complain wish to get a refund. If that’s not possible, they’ll ask for a store credit. And about 28.5 percent of customers giving negative feedback want to get a gift card or credit.
How to Respond: The most appropriate negative review response given this scenario isn’t always a refund. It’s not financially wise in the long term to refund every customer who posts a complaint or negative review.
But there are instances when a financial reimbursement is necessary, such as a faulty or damaged product. Responding to negative reviews this way allows you to build customer trust by backing up your customer satisfaction guarantees.
Each situation will be different. But, as a rule, if the customer doesn’t mention they want a refund, don’t offer one.
The next step is to take the discussion offline. Again, offer contact options so you can discuss the points the customer raised. You build customer relationships better when they see you taking action regarding their complaints.
When your representatives discuss the matter directly with customers, it proves your commitment to resolving the issue and helps improve customer experience and rebuild relationships.
Reason #3: They Want More Upfront Policies
The same study shows that 16.6 percent of customers will leave negative reviews if they disagree with your policies. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should change or modify your policies. Sometimes, you just need to be more upfront about them and educate customers better.
How to Respond: The best way to respond to negative customer reviews of this type is to be transparent. Authenticity and transparency go a long way when it comes to customer relations. Even if some consumers disagree with your policies, they’ll appreciate you for being open and honest.
Surveys show that 9 in 10 customers give second chances to companies with a track record of transparency. Of that number, 73 percent of consumers are willing to pay more because companies guarantee complete transparency. (Sprout Social Survey, 2018)
Company policies set customer expectations. You build customer relationships better when clients understand your standards through these policies. In addition, as your company grows, the laws, regulations and trends change, requiring policy changes.
Best practice indicates firms need to review their policies every three years. Annual reviews are also recommended and policy changes need to be made when certain needs arise. Making timely policy changes will improve customer experience and help build customer relationships. (SHRM, 2022)
Reason #4: They Want To Spare Other Customers From Getting the Same Experience
The Corra survey mentioned earlier shows that 73.2 percent of customers want to save other consumers from terrible experiences. The influence of reviews on buying decisions is immense. By providing negative business reviews about an unsatisfactory, customers effectively keep others from the making the same purchase and having the same negative experience.
While these reviews can turn away prospects, you can treat them as an opportunity to improve customer experience.
How to Respond: Rize Reviews Senior Reputation Manager, Tim Clarke, provided expert tips on how to respond to a negative review of this kind. Here are his suggestions for handling this type of review along with business reputation management best practices:
- Take immediate action and provide a timely response to negative reviews.
- Make sure to reply within 24-48 hours from the time of review posting.
- Keep your answers short and sweet.
- Encourage the reviewer to talk to you off the platform. Escalate the discussion outside of the public forum.
- Never get into a war of words when giving a bad review response.
- Never divulge private and protected customer information.
- Flag a review if it presents false information.
Clarke also emphasized that businesses should respond to 100 percent of all negative reviews. He recommended responding to 75 percent of positive reviews. By consistently providing responses to both positive and negative reviews, you’re increasing engagement and building customer trust.
Reason #5: They Want To Damage the Company’s Reputation
A small percentage of people leave bad reviews for the sole purpose of tarnishing your brand’s name. It requires efficient review monitoring to find these reviews in time before they wreak havoc on your company’s reputation. By applying brand reputation management best practices, you can turn things around and demonstrate that you care about your customers.
How to Respond: The best negative review response is the same as the ones before. You need to apologize and take ownership of the situation. Explain that the problem the customer experienced is not the status quo and that you’re working to make things right. Provide options to contact the customer and take the conversation offline.
There will always be consumers who will give you a bad review. The important thing is to demonstrate that you care enough about the customer and make an effort to make positive, impactful changes.
The next step is to encourage your happy customers to post more positive reviews as part of brand reputation management best practices. The goal is to prove that most of your customers are delighted with your products and service and your brand is worth the investment.
Getting Help With Business Reputation Management
Rize Reviews is a leading brand reputation management firm offering key services such as review monitoring, review response and online reputation repair. We empower your team with the latest online reputation management software and monitoring tools to help you stay on top of negative reviews about your brand.
Our reputation management consultants are best positioned to handle all types of reviews and help you start building customer trust and nourish real, long-term partnerships.
Leverage their experience and turn negative reviews into opportunities to grow your business. Call today to learn more about how we can help.