Just when you thought your business was running smoothly, customers are happy, orders are flowing in every day, you find yourself with a negative review on your Facebook account, Google, Tripadvisor, etc.
Although you know that perfect score pages can raise suspicions from skeptical customers, you still need to be prepared with a way to respond to the most disgruntled customers, without forgetting to thank those who appreciate your efforts.
Why is it so important to do this? Because in every answer there are actually 2 answers. On the one hand, you address the dissatisfied customer, you make them feel respected, understood. On the other hand, you respond to your community and create an image of trust.
Keep in mind also that people are more likely to leave a negative review after an unhappy experience, but less likely to mobilize themselves to write well of their own accord. That’s to be expected. The reasons for dissatisfaction are very diverse, and while there is no standard response to negative posts, there are a few rules you can follow.
In short, what to do when you get a negative review.
- Respond as quickly as possible (24 – max 48h).
As a rule of thumb, consider formulating a response as quickly as possible. The speed with which you respond to a problem raised by a customer (products not matching the description on the website, service not up to expectations, etc.) demonstrates the seriousness, respect and care with which you treat your customers and your business.
- Understand the issue raised and take responsibility.
Make sure you read the message properly and understand the situation the customer is mentioning. It’s true that there are cases where reviews are just ill-intentioned messages (which we also shouldn’t ignore), but most negative opinions have an ounce of truth. So analyse the situation, take responsibility and…
- …try to keep your tone as friendly as possible.
If your first instinct is to get annoyed, breathe in, breathe out, and if you feel the need, ask someone else to write the answer. Furthermore, don’t get bogged down in complicated and pompous answers because they will be regarded with skepticism. Honest and natural answers create a sense of confidence in your business. Remember to thank the customer for the message. Outside feedback is always welcome, especially if it means you can do something extra to improve the experience for future customers.
- Try to explain what happened rather than justify it.
Use your answer to provide more information: did a machine break down, was an employee missing, was a procedural step broken? Any detail that provides more clarity is welcome and can reassure an upset customer.
- Keep it short.
A very long message in which you try to apologize for every mistake or explain in detail what happened is more difficult to decipher in the first place. And secondly, it will make you seem far too emotionally charged, which will in turn generate a defensive reaction from the customer.
Hi, Monica. Thanks for your message.
2. Understanding the problem
We understand that the food has gone cold on you.
3. (Possible – explanation – corrective measure)
Today we had a lot of orders and too few deliveries to handle.
4. Preventive measure
In the future we will make sure that we organise ourselves better so that the food gets to you hot.
5. Invitation or goodbye
We hope to make up for it with our next order.
What not to do when you get a negative review
Although the above solutions seem very easy to implement, the truth is that we can often get carried away and not realise when we are reacting impulsively. So:
- Don’t ignore. Make sure you get timely notifications and don’t miss any customer reviews. Anyone who has taken the time to write a review is sure to be upset and needs to be given due attention.
- Don’t take it personally. Sometimes it’s hard to detach emotionally, especially if it puts a black mark on the image of your business that you’ve worked so hard and dedicatedly on.
- Don’t argue. It’s not a contest of who’s more right.
- Don’t blame. It’s tempting to pass the blame to a teammate who has erred, but you’ll only succeed in sustaining accusations of unprofessionalism.
It’s clear that over time you’re going to run into unhappy customers, no matter how much effort you put into making sure you don’t get it wrong. Such things happen. The important thing is to be proactive and stay one step ahead of the disgruntled or even malicious ones.
What you can do in the online area:
- Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews in the next period. To balance the scales and highlight the good parts of your business. Of course, you shouldn’t be too insistent on getting positive reviews, especially if they are forced or imposed. If you have a customer base, where the customer has agreed to receive business notifications from you, you can send them a nice email. If your audience is more on social media, you can make a post encouraging them to leave a review. But be careful not to be spammy and always remember to thank those who have taken the time to write a nice post.
- Encourage customers to leave a review in exchange for a prize. Although tempting, this is not the most recommended solution, as it can be interpreted as bait. However, you can consider whether it would fit with your company’s specifics and offer small prizes to those who share their opinions. For example – if you run a restaurant, offer a free dinner by drawing lots.
- Post on social media announcing the „unorthodox” practice of competitors. Have you noticed a flood of negative reviews from accounts that don’t inspire trust? If you suspect your business competitors are behind them, you can create a social media post drawing attention to it. But be careful not to name names or be aggressive in your expression. Keep it cool.
- Report reviews. There is no standard rule for when you should report negative reviews. You can take this solution in cases where they contain inappropriate language or threats, are unrealistic, exaggerate a situation that did not occur, are written only to damage the image of the business, etc. There are also cases where it can be confusing (similar business name, similar address) and you may end up with a negative review that was not actually directed at your business.
What you can do in the offline area:
- Ask customers to complete a short feedback form at the end of their interaction with your business. It can be a list of 3-5 open-ended questions or a score from 1-5. Consider keeping it as short as possible, but still relevant to you.
- If you don’t want to hold your customers back at the end of interactions, give them some ‘thank you notes’ thanking them for visiting and encouraging them to leave a positive review if they had a good experience.
- Collect employee reviews. Informal discussions with your employees can give you clues about what the business is lacking at the moment, what’s working, what’s not, how they perceive things. These discussions are especially important if they interact directly with customers and can take the temperature of situations directly.
- One method used in supermarkets is to place buttonsone red and one green, where customers can quickly express their opinion. The disadvantage of this method is that you won’t get direct feedback, so you won’t know what to improve (probably the unhappy ones are shouting from somewhere in the back for another till to open :D).
What do you do when you get a negative review?
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