It is no longer a secret that social media platforms like Facebook are powerful tools…
Running a business is all fun and exciting until you see a negative review about your business online. To put it simply, negative reviews are like a slap in the face.
With the increase or the rise in the use of social media, it has become extremely easy for people to review a business, which has significantly increased the pressure on businesses to be extra careful about how they deal with customers and also be more aware of what’s being said about them online.
It’s needless to mention here that all businesses run the risk of having to deal with a bad review or two online at least once. There’s no denying the fact that dealing with negative feedback can affect you both financially and emotionally. And while there’s no way around them, it all comes down to how you handle negative reviews.
Every business works to make its customers happy, so coming across a bad review online about your business from a customer can be really disheartening. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take this as an opportunity to turn the review around and go the extra mile to satisfy the customer.
That being said, dealing with negative reviews is an art, and it’s important that you learn it, too.
We’ve put together some effective ways for businesses to handle negative reviews and prevent themselves from losing customers.
Don’t Remove the Review (Worst Thing You Can Do)
One of the biggest mistakes that most businesses make when it comes to bad online reviews is that they try to get them removed. This is a terrible approach. When you are running a business, you must always be prepared to be reviewed negatively when you least expect it. However, removing the review from the page isn’t the solution here. For starters, people will view this as you trying to silence these negative reviews, and in an age where transparency is everything, this is possibly the worst thing that any company can do.
The solution lies in properly responding to it and listening to the customer. If you really wish to have the best customer service, you have to focus on the problem, not the result.
Consider It as a Great Opportunity
You know what is likely to help you win over a customer who had a bad experience with your business? Taking their review into consideration and giving them importance!
Instead of having the comment or feedback removed, get to the bottom of it and try to see where you went wrong. A bad review actually presents a wonderful opportunity for businesses to let their customers know that they care for them and will do anything to eliminate their dissatisfaction and disappointment. Once you’ve figured out the issue – let’s say it was a faulty product – fix it. Send the customer a replacement or give them credit for that product. These acts might seem small, but they go a long way!
Employ the H.E.A.R.D Technique
When you talk about excellent customer service, there’s one name that certainly deserves a mention – Disney.
Disney is a household name in this matter, given how it has always provided and employed time-tested techniques to achieve excellence in the world of customer service.
One of these techniques is called the H.E.A.R.D Technique that businesses should employ every time they happen to be dealing with negative reviews online.
H.E.A.R.D is an acronym for Hear, Empathize, Apologize, Resolve, and Diagnose.
Hear – this requires you to hear the customer out without any interruptions, whether it’s through a phone call, live chat, or the comment section on your business page or website.
Empathize – once you’ve listened to what they have to say, extend empathy towards them as a means to offer your help and support. Let them know that you really do understand how and what they feel and convey to them that you’d also feel the same way if you had to deal with a bad experience with a business.
Apologize – the word ‘sorry’ can do wonders, and in many cases, it holds greater importance than the solution itself. Sincere apologies can go a long way in establishing trust and loyalty with your customers, even if you aren’t in the wrong.
Resolve – one of the most important requirements of dealing with negative reviews is to act promptly and resolve the matter at the earliest. The more you delay in responding to a bad review, the greater the chances that you’ve lost the customer for good.
The ultimate question to ask your customer here is: How can we/I make this right for you?
Diagnose – this is probably the most essential step in the entire approach. It simply requires you to get to the bottom of the issue and find out why it was a bad experience for the customer. The main reason behind ‘diagnosing’ is to prevent receiving another negative review in the future. And as they say, prevention is better than cure.
Also, it’s important to follow this step without putting the blame on anyone. Regardless of who is at fault, what matters here is that something like this doesn’t happen again.
Be Polite, Understanding, and Professional
A bad review can honestly throw anyone off guard, especially if the business isn’t really at fault, but it’s vital that you maintain professionalism in your conduct and be polite and understanding when communicating with the customer.
The worst thing businesses can do here is react personally to a negative review. Taking offense won’t ever do you any good, so it’s best if you extend a great degree of understanding towards your customers.
Answer Quickly and Thoughtfully
Most businesses will probably agree with the fact that all kind of feedback is critical, both negative and positive. So, keeping that view in mind, don’t let a negative review offend or sadden you, but instead, take it as a chance to work on your customer service by answering quickly and thoughtfully.
Not to mention, when customers leave feedback for a business, they expect a swift response from the customer service team, so the right thing for you to do here is to be quick with your response time to limit the damage that has been done.
Not just that, but be thoughtful in your response. Draft the perfect reply which not only appeases them but also gives you a chance to communicate with them and make things right.
Take the Matter Offline
One of the best practices you can adopt to handle negative reviews is taking the matter offline.
When you come across an adverse review, take the issue offline after acknowledging it. At this point, you want to communicate with your customer privately, whether through a phone call, live chat, direct messaging, or email.
Firstly, social media platforms are public and open to all, which means every individual is going to notice any kind of engagement or communication that takes place between you and the customer. So, after responding to the review once to show your acknowledgment, approach the customer through other options mentioned earlier.
At the same time, though, make sure that you aren’t overstepping any boundaries, so try to make them comfortable first with the idea of a phone call or a private discussion before you proceed to doing so.
Once you reach a mutual decision and you’ve addressed all their concerns the right way, you can then post a public comment on their review to let others know that the matter has been resolved.
Avoid Getting Defensive
Nobody likes reading a bad review about their business, especially when it’s there for the whole world to see; however, you mustn’t get defensive at all because it will only further the damage and make the situation worse.
So, when responding to bad feedback about your product or service, instead of being all defensive and taking it personally, see it under a neutral lens where you offer plausible solutions while addressing the problem at hand.
Offer an Honest Explanation
Given that the business is at fault for the negative review, offer to give the customer an honest explanation as to what went wrong and why.
When giving an explanation, there are three very important things that you need to keep in mind.
- Never make excuses or beat about the bush. Always take responsibility for the matter and offer clear explanations as to why it happened in the first place.
- Seek advice from the customer to not only give them importance but also to learn what you can do from this point onwards to make things right for them as well as for your business.
- Apologize when you make an explanation even if you haven’t done anything wrong. It goes a long way to establish a good relationship with your customers.
Offer Compensation Appropriately
Every time a restaurant or an eatery receives a bad review from a customer online, they compensate the reviewer by offering a free replacement meal or something like a good discount on their next order. Alternatively, if a person receives an expired skin product from a skincare brand, they either offer to refund their full money or give them a new product free of cost, for instance.
What this suggests is that when dealing with a disappointed customer, one of the simplest strategies while offering an explanation and an apology is to compensate them appropriately for the bad experience.
The idea behind compensating a customer isn’t simply to get rid of the negative review or brush the matter under the carpet, but to let the customer know that you care for them, you are ready to make amends for your mistake, and that you take responsibility for ensuring that something like this won’t happen again in the future.
Take Negative Reviews Seriously
Oftentimes, there are many businesses that don’t really pay any heed to negative reviews about their business. This is a huge mistake on their part because it paints them in a very undesirable light and gives the impression that they are rude and arrogant.
It’s only wise that you don’t make this kind of mistake and try to take negative reviews very seriously. Not only will it help you make lifelong customers, but the chances are that those customers will talk to others about how great your customer service is and how you go the extra mile for their satisfaction.
Have an Online Reputation System in Place
It is important to mention here that not all reviews are legit and authentic; there are times when people do leave a fake negative review attempt to tarnish the reputation of the business. Such reviews generally come from competitors, bots, or even past angry customers where their ultimate goal is to the sentiments of the particular business.
So, to prevent such instances from occurring, it is vital for all businesses to have an online reputation system in place. Such a system plays a huge role in protecting a business’s online reputation and also helps filter out fake or irrelevant reviews online on various social media platforms.
Key Takeaway on Handling Negative Reviews
In a nutshell, businesses need to understand that good customer service will always give them an edge over their competitors.
As much as we all hate the very thought of having to deal with negative reviews, it is essential that we address them, respond to the reviewer, and validate their experience.
It is also a good idea to learn from other businesses about how they handle negative reviews. Disney is definitely one example, but there are many others as well that have set really good examples in terms of dealing with failures, communicating with customers, responding to bad feedback the right way, and many other such aspects.
At the end of the day, all kinds of reviews and feedback are a part of running a business, and there are no two ways about it.
With so many people turning to online reviews to make a purchase, choose a brand or use a service, it is now important more than ever for businesses to work towards maintaining a good online reputation by handling negative reviews in the right manner. More than that, make the customers feel important, because eventually, it all boils down to customer happiness and satisfaction.