3. Turn a Negative Review into a Positive Response
Here is where the opportunity we mentioned in the introduction can come in. With the right cards played, the responder can really leverage this opportunity to turn a negative review into a positive customer service experience by replying with personality and authenticity.
By identifying yourself and your position within your company you can create a line of communication that is much more personal to reflect and reinforce your business’s values. Be aware of customizing individual replies so as not to come off as responding to negative reviews with generic templates. Readers of reviews will notice these patterns and be dissuaded from using your product.
Studies have shown that one-in-three negative reviewers have either changed their review to a positive one, or deleted it outright after a response from the company they were reviewing.
4. Thank the Customer for their Purchase and Feedback
It’s important to acknowledge the customer’s purchase and time spent making the complaint. Most industries are highly competitive for small businesses; recognize and appreciate the customer for choosing your company in the first place.
Secondly, thank the purchaser for taking the time to write a review instead of just dismissing your product and moving on. Showing gratitude for providing feedback, and for the opportunity to correct whatever mishaps or problems that occurred is essential here.
Ask further questions as to what specifically happened and/or how the experience could have been more enjoyable. Make the customer feel valued and heard, and then you can take further steps to rectify the situation.
5. Apologize and Take Responsibility for the Negative Experience
Even if you are unsure as to why things went awry or convinced that your company did nothing wrong in the situation, it’s always best practice to accept responsibility and say you’re sorry for an unsatisfactory experience. There is no upside in trying to convince a customer that their negative experience is unfounded. In other words, never argue, always apologize. Ask for a second chance and assure the customer that the same mistakes won’t be made in the future.
Remember, though, the customer is NOT always right. Don’t put up with unwarranted abuse or unreasonable shoppers.
See related: Dealing With Difficult Shoppers
6. Ask the Reviewer to Continue the Conversation Offline
Having a drawn out public back and forth on a review website will only dissuade customers from using your product or website. Again it’s not about being right, it’s about making the customer happy.
Therefore, publicly acknowledging and apologizing for your shortcomings is great. But the next move is to provide a private channel of communication to resolve the issue. While it’s time-consuming for small business owners and their employees to communicate directly with customers, a direct line of conversation can do wonders to make things right, bring about customer satisfaction, and build brand loyalty.
7. Make It Right and Resolve the Situation For the Customer
The two most important things here are to publicly rectify the situation, and to retain the customer in question. There is no shame in providing a short explanation as long as you don’t put the blame on the customer (again, with the caveat that the complaint is at least remotely fair) and offer to make amends.
For example, if you own a liquor store or wine shop, and recommend a specific brand, you’re bound to eventually sell a corked bottle. How you respond to a customer that opens that corked bottle can be crucial. Offering the unhappy customer a free bottle, or a taste of some samples in the store will bring the customer back into the shop and show them that you’re willing to go the extra mile to ensure that they’re satisfied.
Chances are, if they taste something they really like, they’ll probably delete or change that review! This is how companies should respond to negative reviews, especially for small businesses.
8. Get A Peer Editor to Look Over Your Reply
The hands-on, personality-driven customer service that many people find attractive about small business owners is extremely valuable. Nonetheless, it presents situations that are a bit more interpersonal. Especially in this small business setting that is more casual and brings less corporate training, negative reviews can cause a visceral reaction from business owners and managers.
As previously discussed, it is always best practice to respond promptly, however it may be helpful to have a third party review the response to make sure it doesn’t read as overly patronizing or defensive. Peer editing of your official business reply can help detect any awkward or unnecessary language while maintaining the personal touch of addressing each specific review.
How to Respond to Negative Reviews to Bring in More Sales
In the current ecosystem of online presence, being honest about your business, your product, and your development attracts more lifelong customers. By working through the general rule that customer satisfaction is the most important factor (especially in dealing with reviews), business owners should naturally build this aspect of public relations into their company culture. Therefore, knowing how to respond to a negative review online and implementing these techniques into your day-to-day business practices will ensure a much greater chance of lasting success.