No one likes to receive negative reviews. This is especially true for merchants and business owners who are doing everything possible to provide quality customer service. However, a few negative reviews are inevitable, and how companies handle them is what really matters to customers. Not so long ago, negative reviews took the form of a customer complaint that was maybe tracked privately within the company. Today, reviews are posted online for the world to see. This makes it even more important to properly address negative reviews whenever it happens.
Three Ways to Handle Negative Reviews Online:
1. Respond Quickly
The most important step when handling negative reviews is to respond quickly. To do this, merchants need to know when and where they are happening. Make it a part of the customer service team’s daily tasks to monitor all new comments and reviews online so that they never slip by unnoticed. There are several tools available to help with social media and brand monitoring such as HootSuite, Klout, and Google Alerts.
When forming a response, the goal is to let the customer know that their issues have been heard and apologize for their inconvenience. Do everything possible to make things right with the customer. Don’t waste time trying to justify actions with long excuses. Future and current customers can see these reviews so protect your branding and integrity with a professional response and tone of voice. Let the customer know you are taking the complaint seriously and assure them the issue will be addressed.
Ideally, it is best to respond to customer’s negative reviews privately. Request the customer’s contact information and try to reach them offline. However, it’s not always easy. Sometimes it’s not possible to communicate in private, in which case, do so publicly. Leave a professional comment on the negative review if possible, apologizing and working to correct the mistake. Hopefully, after being contacted, the customer will change their mind and update the negative review, but if not, don’t worry about it and move on.
It’s OK to Ignore Rant Reviews
We’ve all seen reviews left by customers who seem to be dealing with other personal issues. Most people will understand what those reviews really are and will ignore them. It’s OK, and perhaps better, to simply ignore the trolling. If necessary, it’s also possible to have negative or fake reviews removed. Sometimes, it’s OK to laugh at them. In fact, there is a YouTube channel that creates dramatic videos with real actors and real negative reviews left on Yelp.
2. Address the Issue
Rarely do customers leave negative reviews for no reason. Chances are something simply went wrong and negative reviews can help to find and address internal issues. Evaluate the reasons for the negative review and look for ways in which improvements can be made. Maybe the customer received a damaged product in the mail as a result of a poor shipping or packaging process. Or, maybe a salesperson was rude to them, in which case be sure to handle that issue with that employee. If the underlying issue is never addressed, it is very likely to receive more negative reviews in the future.
Ask for Reviews
Negative reviews are usually not a problem (and less noticeable) if they are swimming amongst dozens of positive reviews. For example, if there are currently three reviews, two positive and one negative, then 25% of the reviews are negative. However, if a company has 100 reviews and only one is negative, then just 1% of reviews are negative and is simply less noticeable. Reviews matter to customers.
Data from the BrightLocal consumer review survey notes just how important they are to conversions:
- 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
- 54% of people visit a company’s website after reading positive reviews.
- 74% of people trust local businesses more after reading positive reviews.
- 58% of people believe the “star rating” is the most important metric for them.
It should be a business goal to get as many good reviews as possible from happy customers.
There are several ways to get more reviews online and one of the easiest ways is to simply invite each and every customer to leave a review. Merchants can do this by including a link to leave feedback in confirmation emails. Another way could be to include a note on the package slip with information on how to contact customer service and where to leave a review. It’s also a good idea to send out a follow-up email a week or so after a package has been delivered inviting the customer to help other customers by leaving feedback on products. Sometimes simple reminders can go a long way towards generating more positive reviews.
3. Make Handling Negative Reviews a Priority
Customer service is important for any business. With the prominence of online review sites like Google and Yelp and individual product review features for eCommerce, it’s more important than ever before to address negative reviews in a timely and effective manner. Doing so not only gives the opportunity to turn a bad review into a good one (and perhaps save a lost customer), but it improves branding and awareness to future customers as well.
To learn more about the importance of online feedback, and how to handle negative reviews, please contact us for more information.