Negative reviews are scary.
Whether you’re just starting out or already on your way, seeing a negative online review pop up for your business can feel like a death sentence. However, with the right approach, you can easily turn your bad reviews into opportunities to attract loyal customers.
In this post, we’ll take a look at how you can respond to negative reviews, prevent them from happening in the future, and build a glowing online reputation for your business that will keep customers coming back again and again. From Facebook comments to product reviews, we’ve put together a toolkit that will help you handle even the trickiest online situations.
With 97% of consumers worldwide saying that customer service is an important factor when it comes to brand loyalty, successfully dealing with customer feedback is more important than ever.
So, let’s take a look at how you can conquer the world of negative reviews and build a community of dedicated loyalists.
Address Negative Reviews Quickly
Once you’ve noticed a negative review, your first priority should be putting together a response as quickly as possible. In this crucial window of time, speed is your friend. Remember: You can’t just ignore your negative reviews. No matter how badly you want them to disappear, they won’t get resolved unless you find a solution and actually do something about them.
Be sure to keep an eye on your social media profiles and review sites so that you can get in front of problems before they spiral out of control. Regularly monitoring customer reviews and comments will not only help you minimize the damage of negative feedback, but it will also help you keep your fingers on the pulse of your audience.
Also, remember that no matter how tempting it might be, you should never delete negative comments or reviews. This will only make disappointed customers even more upset when they realize that their opinions are being silenced or ignored. The only exception to this rule is if a reviewer is being overtly inappropriate or unproductive; never be afraid to moderate comments that aren’t contributing positively to the conversation.
If you suspect that a negative reviewer is a troll then your best approach is to do nothing. Any escalation will only make matters worse since these reviewers won’t be looking for a real solution.
So, now that you’ve spotted a bad review, it’s time to deal with it. Here are three things that your response should be:
When things go wrong, you can’t afford to sit around. If one of your customers is upset, you need to contact them as soon as possible to help them solve their issue and keep the situation from escalating further.
Make reaching out to the customer a priority - don’t let more than 24 hours pass between their initial complaint and your response.
Everyone screws up, but you shouldn’t let your mistakes define you. You need to take ownership of your customers’ negative experiences and respond publicly to your bad reviews.
This is a great opportunity to not only show the affected customer that you’re willing to publicly take responsibility for their experience, but to also showcase to the rest of your audience that you’re a responsible business owner who values accountability and transparency.
Negative reviews can hurt, especially when you’ve put so much time and hard work into your business. When you’re responding to customer feedback, you need to keep your cool and resist taking complaints personally or shifting the blame.
Don’t start arguments, don’t make excuses, and don’t insult your customers. Instead, be polite and courteous. It will go a long way with your audience.
Put Yourself In Their Position
When it comes to responding to negative reviews, empathy is incredibly important. Being able to put yourself in your customers' shoes will not only help you formulate a more effective response, but it will also ensure that your customers feel that their thoughts have been heard and appreciated.
Your customers aren’t leaving negative comments on your business’ profiles because they have nothing better to do. Writing a negative review takes a lot of effort and if someone has gone out of their way to write one for your business, it usually means that they’ve had a genuinely bad experience and they’re looking for someone to fix it.
To better understand your customer’s perspective, think about a time that you had a poor experience with a business - whether it was a shipping error, a website glitch, or subpar service - and try to remember the emotions that you were feeling at that time. You were probably frustrated and upset.
Be sure to address how they’re feeling and acknowledge how frustrating or upsetting the situation must be for them and emphasize that you value their feedback. Making a human connection with your customers will demonstrate just how seriously you’re taking their complaint.
Apologize and Offer Solutions
Apologies are the cornerstone of crafting a successful response. When you’re reaching out to a customer about a negative review, focus on apologizing for both the situation itself as well as how that situation made the customer feel. An apology will show that you’ve taken responsibility for your customer’s frustration and understand that a mistake was made.
As a business owner, you’re ultimately responsible for every experience that your customers have - whether it’s positive or negative. By accepting responsibility and taking action to fix the situation, you’ll win your customers’ respect and solidify a more positive reputation for yourself.
Be sure to look for opportunities to make the situation right and to show how much you care about your customers. Any interaction with your audience is always an opportunity to delight and impress - even negative reviews.
Identify the source of the problem and offer to resolve it in a way that is as straightforward as possible. If a product is faulty, offer to replace it; if there’s a glitch with your order processing, offer a discount code as compensation for their trouble; if someone isn’t satisfied with a product, offer a full refund.
If one of your customers has taken the time to write a negative review, that means that something really went wrong and you need to take the time to show them that you care. You need to be as understanding and proactive as possible in solving your customer’s issue to ensure that they end up satisfied and the situation doesn’t escalate.
Following through on your solution is just as important as proposing a solution in the first place. Even if you respond quickly and courteously, your words are empty without actions to back them up.
If the issue persists after you’ve offered a solution, share an email or phone number that the customer can contact you at further. Taking the conversation to a private channel will reinforce your dedication to fixing the problem and also help you get more specific details that will make a more acceptable solution easier to track down.
Plan for the Future
You should look at every negative review as a piece of constructive criticism. If a customer is having a problem with your business, then it means that something is broken and there’s room for improvement. Figure out exactly what went wrong and make a plan for the future to ensure that the same thing doesn’t happen again.
It can be tough to see your own weak points sometimes, but nobody’s perfect. Getting fresh and (sometimes painfully) honest opinions from your audience is a crucial part of growing a healthy business.
Take each negative review as a valuable learning experience. After you’ve identified exactly what went wrong, deep dive into the issue to figure out how you can avoid it in the future. Talk to your staff and either iron out the bugs in your system or create a new process for dealing with similar situations.
Not only will the negative reviewer never encounter the same problem again, but none of your customers will - meaning that you’ll be in a better position to become a more successful business. Negative reviews may sting at first, but they’re ultimately a good thing for your business’ future.
Get More Positive Reviews
While handling negative reviews effectively is a great way for your business to shine, you need to make sure that your satisfied customers are sharing their thoughts too. Some genuinely positive reviews will strengthen your business’ online reputation and provide social proof to new prospects.
People can be much more enthusiastic about leaving negative feedback than positive comments, so sometimes even your happiest customers might need a bit of a push to publicly express how much they love your business.
Here are a few simple ways that you can start getting more positive reviews from your existing customers:
1. Be Awesome
This might seem a little obvious, but it’s a huge part of getting better online reviews. Provide your customers with great products and stellar service, and they’ll often reward you with glowing reviews. Always look for new ways to keep your customers happy by anticipating their needs and potential pain points.
2. Engage Your Community
One of the best ways to get positive feedback flowing is by fostering an active online community. Regularly engage with your fans on social media and keep an eye on public conversations to identify emerging problems before they snowball into negative reviews. The more actively engaged you are with your customers, the more likely they’ll be to share their positive experiences.
3. Ask Your Customers
Sometimes getting a solid review is as easy as asking. Identify which customers will be more likely to give you a positive review and shoot them a short and sweet email. The ideal customers to target for this are longtime clients and customers that have recently had a successful experience with your product.
Be sure to make it easy for them to add reviews by including links to your social media profiles and relevant review sites. If you use Shopify, you can install a customer feedback app like Product Reviews or Yotpo.
Congratulations! With these handy tools at your disposal, you should be able to crush your fear of negative reviews once and for all. Now, get out there and impress your customers with a great response!
Have any more questions about handling negative feedback? Let us know in the comments below.