How to respond to negative reviews
Customer reviews are an essential part of life for any business owner – and this goes double for those who trade online. Positive reviews are what every business owner wants, but sometimes things do go wrong. At some point, you will come up against a negative customer review and when that happens, you need to know how to deal with it. It’s a fact of business life that poor reviews tend to stand out: for instance, the majority of energy provider Ovo reviews are positive, yet the minority of complaints might get more exposure on social media. Handling a negative review carefully and professionally can even turn a potentially serious problem for your company into an asset. Here’s how:
Keep your cool
However unfair or inaccurate you feel a review may be, you will only make it worse for yourself and your company if you let yourself be dragged into a virtual shouting match. It will come across as unprofessional behaviour, which will inevitably lead those who see it to wonder how professional you are in other aspects of your business. It’s very important that you present your case in a cool, calm and collected fashion. It’s even possible to improve your company’s reputation in this way: most consumers understand that things will sometimes go wrong, so a business which handles complaints calmly is likely to impress them.
Don’t get side-tracked
In some cases, negative reviews will contain complaints about things over which you have no control. For example, if you sell electrical components, you may find that customers seem to blame you for the rising price of energy. Even though this is something entirely outside your control, it’s all too easy to let yourself get sucked into a debate on the subject. If that happens, everyone is a loser: the customer loses because you can’t bring their bills down; you lose because you haven’t concentrated on the things you can change. Make sure you keep a clear focus on the things that really are your responsibility and never lose sight of those.
Distinguish fact from opinion
If a reviewer has made a statement that is factually wrong, you can simply put that person right. For example, if you are criticised for charging for postage when in fact you don’t, you can state categorically that free postage is available. However, if you are instead criticised for having excessive postage charges, that’s a matter of opinion. What you consider a fair price may not be what your customer considers acceptable. That means you need to take a different tack when responding: the biggest mistake of all here would be to tell the critics that they are wrong. Instead, give your point of view without attacking theirs: say calmly that you believe your postage charges represent excellent value for money.
Know when to take things offline
Although it’s a good idea to make your initial response to a complaint as public as possible, that doesn’t necessarily hold true for the later stages of the resolution process. Customers may feel aggrieved if you continue to splash details of their case all over the Internet, seeing it – with some justification – as a breach of their privacy. Continuing outside interest can also distract you from giving your full attention to the customer and thereby slow things down. Instead, fall back on one-to-one communication methods such as phone or email. Doing this will also give customers the feeling that you truly care about them, rather than that you’re simply trying to protect your reputation.