5-minute read (1,000 words)
In business, a few bad reviews are inevitable, but entrepreneurs should take each one as an opportunity to learn and develop. Most likely, the bad reviews are a result of mismatched expectations or some uncontrollable events, but you can handle them if you follow a few simple strategies.
Apologizing for the undesirable experience, responding to every negative review and explaining the changes that you made to resolve the issue could help you to turn a negative review into a positive experience and get more satisfied customers. Here are five time-tested best practices to minimize the damage and turn negative reviews into positive results for your business.
1. Monitor your Reviews and Look for Commonalities
Negative reviews can drive your potential customers to buy from other brands, so it’s necessary to develop a system to monitor your business reviews regularly. Each negative review that remains unanswered is a lost opportunity to retain existing customers and attract new prospects. Start by creating a formalized process to handle and react to customer reviews. However, your level of control will depend on the specific review platform.
Track your negative reviews over Google Alerts, review platforms and social media sites. Use the collected data from negative reviews to better communicate with customers. Analyze them for repeated complaints and figure out what product or service is causing an issue with your customers. Designate a person within each department to handle specific types of problems, or you can also manage this process by yourself.
2. Acknowledge and Apologize
Customers pay attention to how businesses react to their issues and whether they resolve the problem or not. Approach your negative reviewers to provide the best possible customer experience. Apologize by saying you’re sorry for their bad experience and explain how this is unusual within your business. Promise to fix the mistake and tell them that your business goal is to deliver a consistent level of excellence. It’s crucial to empathize with customers, explain the issue and apologize without blaming them, in the fewest possible words. Also, thank your customers for taking the time to highlight the concerns with your business.
3. Respond Quickly, Strategically and Professionally
When customers go to the trouble of submitting a review, they expect a quick response. A Harvard Business Review study found that when businesses respond to customer reviews – good or bad – their ratings subsequently increase.
Since no two reviews are the same, your response to each interaction, opinion and issue requires a different approach. Assess the bad review quickly so you can assign ownership or post a prompt and appropriate response. Early action shows prospects that you’re paying attention to their feedback — and ensures future customers that the same issue won’t happen to them.
If possible, contrast the reviewer’s bad experience with your company policy and tactfully promote a positive image of your business. Include some of your business’ strengths in your reply and provide them with the appropriate contact information. Your response should be authentic – you or any employees who respond to negative online reviews should use your real names and include your role in the business.
Tell the customer that you’re looking into the issue, and how soon you’re going to fix the problem. Take this moment to reinforce your brand’s customer service values and improve your business’ online reputation. Responding positively to bad reviews and handling the complaints (and the situation) professionally can result in better ratings and conversion rates.
4. Evaluate the Situation and Take Necessary Actions
Upon determining which aspect of your business needs improvement, brainstorm solutions and weigh the outcomes. The most important thing is to learn from the negative business reviews and use those as the framework to address any core issues.
Knowing that your business will always fix something that went wrong helps customers trust your brand more. Building trust eliminates the need for them to post reviews in the first place because they know if they contact your company directly, their concerns will get addressed.
Delegate ownership of the review – assign responsibility to the department, employee or manager who has extensive experience in handling issues like the reviewer’s complaint. Consider offering a gift card, special deal or a discount to the customer on their next purchase, if applicable.
Some sites give companies complete control over their business reviews, while others don’t allow companies to respond directly. In such a case, you should take the issue offline, and explain in specific detail how you’ll make up for the customer’s unfavorable experience. If it takes longer, let them know that the concerned department is working on it.
5. Follow Up and Get Feedback Following Resolution
The best way to combat bad reviews is to bring in more positive reviews. Once you’ve assessed the negative review and resolved the issue, post a public response. The public response shows your commitment to customer service and dedication to solve problems as quickly and professionally as possible. Going forward, when your potential business prospects see the interaction, they’ll also consider you trustworthy.
Make sure to follow up with your unhappy customers to check their satisfaction with the resolution of their issue. They may also give you positive feedback or even change the review to a positive one. Each negative review handled with care and efficiency will surely win customers’ trust and loyalty for your business.