Never before has it been easier for consumers to vent their frustrations after having had a less than desirable experience with a company. Whatever your industry, having a bad review posted online can be a major setback and should be addressed immediately.
It can be tempting to just ignore these reviews, but whether you ignore them or not – they’re out there for everyone to see. Surely it’s better to show that you care about these negative experiences and are trying to learn from them, rather than ignoring them and indicating that you don’t care if a customer has had a poor experience.
A research report carried out by Marketing Land in 2013 showed that 58% of people were likely to share a negative review compared to five years previously. You can bet that this figure has gone up substantially since then.
So how should you deal with a negative review?
1. Respond to it as soon as possible
A quick response shows that you actually care about their experience. Don’t leave it lingering for too long.
2. Apologise for their experience
Even if it wasn’t your fault, apologise. Make sure that your apology is personalised to their specific complaint – don’t just use the same cut and paste apology for every negative review (hopefully this won’t be an issue as you won’t have lots of negative reviews!). Personalisation adds authenticity and shows that you respect the reviewer.
3. Thank them for the feedback
Their bad experience with you may just be a one off occurrence, or it could require more in-depth investigation into a regular problem. If you’ve had multiple reviewers report the same thing it’s worth spending time to investigate the root cause of the problem and eliminate it as best as possible.
4. Let them know that you’re investigating the matter
As we mentioned above, it might be a one off, or it could be a more common problem than you know about. So as well as thanking them for highlighting the issue, let them know that you’re looking into it. Don’t fall into the trap of blaming them (even if you suspect they may have been a nightmare customer!). Avoid being confrontational or argumentative.
5. Leave contact details and suggest you take the conversation offline
Let the reviewer know how they can contact you to further discuss the problem. Even if they don’t take you up on the offer to discuss it, it shows other visitors that you’re keen to resolve the issue and you’re not hiding away from it. It also means that if the discussion does get a bit ugly, it’s not done in the public forum.
So that’s what you should do… but what should you avoid doing:
- Don’t take it personally
- Don’t hide behind the ‘company policy’
- Don’t get aggressive
- Don’t use it as a way to promote new products or services
- Don’t dwell too long on it – address it and move on