If you read my last post, A Framework for Negative Reviews, you have a tool for effectively turning negative customer reviews into golden opportunities for your online reputation, making lemonade out of lemons! In this post, I will provide a detailed process for dealing with negative reviews to help move you to the top of the local search maps. Enjoy and prosper.
Sorting Your Negative Reviews
“A rose is a rose is a rose.” Not so with negative customer reviews. Some negative reviews can improve your business reputation; others will hurt it. Some reviews call for a response; others don’t. Sorting out the differences between these reviews is the first step in the process.
Here’s a simple sorting system you can use. You may wish to add additional sorting criteria that fit your business.
You goofed up! You have a bad product for the customer situation. You made promises you did not keep. You missed an appointment. The customer feels wronged. Respond.
The facts are wrong. Misunderstandings can arise about the product or your business. You feel that with the right information, the customer would feel differently. Respond.
A bad review sparks a wild fire. One negative review gets piled on by others. The negativity is spreading across social media channels with Tweets and Facebook comments. You cannot afford to have this wild fire destroy your business reputation. Respond quickly.
Customer is having a “bad hair day.” Some people have a negative bent about life. If you think this is the situation, don’t go to war over it. It’s a war you will never win. Let it go.
Someone has faked a bad review. Competitors in some industries are known for writing false and negative reviews about their competition. Make sure it is a legitimate review. Verify.
Key Ingredients for Responding to a Negative Review
Address the negative review quickly and in real time
The longer a customer broods about their negative situation, the bigger the problem becomes and the more difficult to resolve. Respond in real time using the same social media channels where the negative review was found. Customers and potential customer will use “time” as an indicator about your level of concern for the issue.
Make Contact with the customer
You can do this online, on the phone or with email.
Remain Calm and Thank the Customer
No business likes to be criticized. Charging wildly into the situation will not help resolve the issue. When others see you being defensive online, they will think less of your business. It’s always good to start by thanking the customer for the negative review.
The best starting point is always to have the customer articulate their issue. Ask questions to further understand the issue. Listen to the answers. Listen to what is not being said. Sometime, just being a good listener goes a long way to resolving the issue. Make sure the customer knows you care about them by the way you listen.
If you have made a mistake, admit it. Don’t make excuses. Explore ways to resolve the issue that works for you and the customer.
Be a real person
Identify yourself as the owner of the business. People feel good about dealing with the “boss.” Too many companies hide behind business policies. Or they come across as being very “official”. Right or wrong, the customer feels wronged. Speak to them in words that come from a real person and not a policy or business procedure.
Fix the Problem
Offer to fix the problem. Your job is to make the situation better and to satisfy the customer. Your ability to do this will determine whether a negative review becomes a positive for your business. Give the customer an outlet for resolving the issue.
Promise to do better
Some situations may not have a perfect solution. It’s important that you promise to do better in the future. Potential customers will see your promise online.
Go the extra mile
By going the extra mile for the customer you show a commitment to having them as a long time customer. Others who see this online will be impressed with your commitment towards customers. Resolving negative customer reviews is now part of your customer service program.
Example of Negative Review Resolution
Here’s an example on how one business dealt with negative customer review.
On a Saturday afternoon in March, Precision Door of NJ got a scathing review from a very unhappy customer. The next day this unhappy customer received a telephone call from the Owner.
The owner thanked the customer for taking the time to submit a review of his business on Google. He let the customer know that he took reviews seriously and that he appreciated the review because it gave him the chance to fix the problem. He also used the time to understand the customer’s problem and see if he could rectify it.
It turns out the customer had a legitimate gripe. A couple of things had gone wrong on the call, and on top of it the customer was charged for something he probably shouldn’t have been.
Doug was able to use this opportunity to refund the customer’s money. And as importantly, he was able to get additional training to an employee he wouldn’t have otherwise known needed it.
Although the customer still wasn’t thrilled he went back to Google and posted another review of the business – A 3-Star Review.
Now you have information on when and how to respond to negative customer reviews. In the next post, I will provide some tools you can use for this process. I want to thank a number of authors for their input to this subject. I took bits and pieces from each of them. Click on their names if you want to see more of their information.
- DIANE CHARTO
- Erin Mulligan Nelson
- Yvonne Gaudette
- Danika Atkins
- Jason Keith
- Matthew Hunt
- LISA BARONE
- SEO Igloo Blog
- Jay Baer
- Chris Book
Share your questions and comments in the Reply Section below. Thank you.