Thanks to the internet, online review sites and social media, your customers have louder voices than ever before and, if you haven’t already, sooner or later you’re going to get some negative reviews. It’s never easy to read the harsh words of an unhappy customer online, especially if they haven’t given you a chance to resolve the problem privately and in person. As unfair and unpleasant as negative reviews may be, they are a fact of life in business today. So, what to do about them?
Here are a list of DO’s and DON’Ts when it comes to handling those nasty negative reviews.
- DO Respond to the complainer online. You may or may not be able to turn that customer around. However, if you don’t try, you’ll never know. More importantly, others who are reading those reviews are watching to see how and if you respond. By not responding at all, you’re sending the message “I don’t care.”
- DO Respond quickly. Make sure someone is monitoring those online reviews so you can act immediately.
- DO Empathize and express regret for the experience. Be polite and professional and take the high road.
- DO Offer a solution in your online response, if you have one. Otherwise, offer to talk with the person offline to resolve the situation.
- DO Own up to mistakes if you made them, and include in your comments how you’re going to rectify the error immediately.
- DO Take the conversation offline as quickly as you can. Reach out to the customer via phone or, if you don’t know how to find them, provide them with a way to contact you.
- DO Provide a personalized response to each reviewer.
- DO Encourage your customers to leave reviews. Assuming you’re delivering red-carpet customer service, you’ll get some raves to counterbalance those negative reviews.
- DO Respond to those positive reviews as well. Show people reading those reviews that you care about your customers.
- DO Thank every reviewer for leaving feedback about their experience with your business.
- DO Learn from each review. Proactively strive to take the feedback you receive and use it to get better.
- DO Read Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer. I recommend the audio book. He’s fun!
On the other hand….
- DON’T Lash out in your response, or react emotionally. Keep it courteous and kind, even if you feel the other person is being unfair. Remember, your audience is watching how you respond to those negative reviews.
- DON’T Throw someone else under the bus in your response. For instance, one organization got a negative review for an event they did not sponsor. Their best response is to empathize with the customer, explain that they were not responsible for that event, and offer to put them in touch with someone at the organization who sponsored it. This can be done without naming that organization online.
- DON’T Get into an argument online. Respond once, and then take the conversation online.
- DON’T Use canned responses. Everyone can see you just cut and paste a response for each complaining customer. A professional, personalized reply is the way to go.
- DON’T Freak out about negative reviews. Remember, it’s the way you respond to them that will make the difference.
What do you think? Comment below and let me know your thoughts about how to respond to those pesky negative reviews.
Customer Service Speaker Donna Cutting is the author of 501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Customers: Easy-to-Implement Ideas to Inspire Loyalty, Get New Customers and Leave a Lasting Impression. As the Founder and CEO she leads a team of customer service experts who provide tools and training to help leaders engage their teams to deliver a world class customer experience. Get more customer service tips by SUBSCRIBING to our YouTube channel, Liking our Facebook page, or following Donna on Twitter at @donnacutting