Negative reviews can permanently damage your business’ online reputation. Four out of five consumers have changed their minds about a recommended purchase after reading negative online reviews. Businesses risk losing as many as 22% of customers when just one negative article is found by users considering buying their product. If three negative articles pop up in a search query, the potential for lost customers increases to 59.2%.
Ideally, every online review you get would be positive. Unfortunately, this isn’t realistic. Knowing how to tackle negative feedback can save your business customers and attract new ones. Responding to negative reviews is one of the toughest aspects of online reputation management. We narrowed down the top six tips to help you address negative feedback online before it hurts your business.
Six Tips for Responding to Negative Reviews:
It doesn’t matter how you respond to a review if you wait too long to respond. When customers take the time to leave a review or reach out via social media, they’re expecting a response. Over 40 percent of customers who leave bad Google reviews want an answer within an hour! Since the customer thought the issue was important enough to post publicly, you should treat it as urgent. Respond quickly to show that you care about customers and their feedback.
Even though you should respond fast, you still need to read the review thoroughly. No matter the tone or content of the review, don’t let anger or frustration color your words. Take what the customer said into consideration and reply with calm.
Recognize the Issue
Remember the saying, “The first step in solving a problem is recognize it does exist“? Well, that applies to when you respond to reviews too.
Acknowledge the customer’s issue even if you think the customer is wrong. Maybe the customer did not understand your business process, or maybe he was having a bad day, whatever the case, recognizing the issue is the first step in finding a solution.
Offer an Apology
It’s a good idea to apologize. An apology helps diffuse your customer’s temper and demonstrates that you offer a high level of service. Explain how the experience does not align with your usual top-notch service.
Here is an example response you can use:
“Thank you for your feedback, [Customer Name]. We apologize that our service did not meet your expectations. At [Company Name] we strive to set a high standard for our service, and we’re truly sorry to hear that wasn’t met in your interaction with our company…”
As long as you’re sincere, you can’t apologize enough. Even if you feel your business wasn’t in the wrong, you can be apologetic about how the customer feels.
Provide an Explanation.
You may find an apology was all the customer wanted. But sometimes, you will find that a customer also needs an explanation of what went wrong.
Here are two things to remember when explaining:
- Provide a brief but clear explanation of what happened and take responsibility.
- Mitigate the mistake to be sure your customers will not experience it again if they decide to re-engage with your business.
Business mistakes cost customers time and money. However, if you recover from the mistake well, then you can build a stronger relationship with the customer than you had before. This is called the service recovery paradox, where a very positive service recovery causes the customer to have increased loyalty to your company. Compensating a customer with a bad experience will help you leverage the opportunity to build a deeper relationship with your customer.
Make sure you give your customers a reason to continue to do business with you. Be sure to incentivize your customers. While apologies are great, a 20% off discount on their next service will do much more to encourage your customer to use your company again. Taking this extra step can turn an angry customer into a lifetime fan.
Always offer to make things right. Offer a replacement or discount, and do it fast. A customer might be too angry to accept a free offer, but your willingness to go the extra mile will impress future leads.
Discuss it Offline
Resolve the issue offline if you can. It allows you to diffuse tempers outside of the public eye. You may want to say something like:
“I’m sorry for your experience, [Customer Name]. Please reach out to me personally via [your email], and I would be happy to discuss the issue at your earliest convenience.”
Provide your name, title, and direct email, so the customer can be sure you’re the right person to talk about the issue.
Whatever you do, do not ask the customer to remove the review (read more about how you can ask the customer to amend it instead <insert blog link for how to ask a customer to change a review>). Asking the customer to remove a review can backfire. Instead, make sure the client feels heard.
Once you’ve responded to the customer publicly online, be sure that you follow up privately via email. Going the extra mile in addressing their concerns personally may even encourage them to come back and change their review or post a new one.
Responding to negative reviews not only helps you reconnect with customers, but it can help improve your business. Just a quick note that not all negative feedback is useful, and taking every review to the heart can harm your product or service. Instead, when you look through reviews, consider any themes or repeat complaints. When you discover patterns then you can improve your product or service. Yelp reviews can be very helpful for this since the site will highlight the words that are mentioned by multiple customers.
Negative reviews are scary and intimidating for most business owners, but instead of panicking stop and think about how to respond. The right response can turn disappointed customers into your most loyal fans.
If you’re not sure where to start in responding to reviews, Rize Reviews can help. Let Rize Reviews handle all your online reputation management needs. Contact us today.