Just as positive reviews can be very influential in persuading consumers to purchase any given product or service, negative reviews can be just as damaging. Studies have shown that as many as 80% of consumers have undergone a complete change of heart about buying a product after reading a highly negative review about it. While some business owners have felt that negative reviews are like a slap in the face or a punch in the stomach, others who have a game plan for responding to them, see them as opportunities to show the world just how good their product or service really is.
It should also be noted, that there is actually some positive value which can be derived from negative customer reviews, because they do tend to legitimize all the positive reviews that a business receives, showing readers that negative reviews have not been filtered out by management. It’s also true that when consumers find negative reviews posted on a business website, they feel as though they’ve done their homework, and have adequately researched whatever product or service they were seeking.
This in turn, makes them feel more comfortable about proceeding through the purchasing cycle. In any case, the main thing to remember about negative customer reviews is that you should have a game plan in mind for how to deal with them, rather than simply allowing your emotions to guide your responses. The information below may prove valuable in helping you to handle negative customer reviews, and in actually turning them to your advantage.
Respond with future prospects in mind
This is not to say that you should in any way dismiss the complaints or criticisms of the reviewer, but when dealing with negative customer reviews, you should always keep in mind how your response will be received by future readers and potential customers. When addressing specific complaints, make sure to point out how the shortcoming has already been addressed, or how it certainly will be in the near future, now that you’re aware of it.
Make it clear in your response that future customers or clients at your establishment will not have that same experience, because you have already made plans to address the issue. It would even be good to thank the reviewer for calling the shortcoming to your attention, so as to show all other readers you really do care about satisfying them.
Understand your response options
On websites other than your own, you will probably have limited options available to you for any kind of response, but it’s still important that you do respond in any way that you can, because some of these sites are highly visited and carry a great deal of weight. Almost all of the major review sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google Places, CitySearch, and InsiderPages, will all allow business owners to respond to consumers.
Many of these same sites will not allow owners to remove those reviews, nor can they be edited. To find out exactly what you’re allowed privileges are as a business owner on any of these sites, go to the site and check the documentation available there. But for sure, even if you can’t change or delete very negative reviews, you should respond to each one of them, unless it’s obvious that it’s someone’s personal vendetta, and clearly an outlier.
Don’t expect them to simply go away
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that one or two negative reviews are not that serious, and that they’ll simply fade away if you ignore them. These reviews have a way of developing legs of their own and appearing in a slew of other locations, where you might least expect it. It’s much better to handle a negative customer review right at the source word first appeared. If you step into the fray a little too late for that, and it has already been passed around, you should still insert yourself into the mix and make sure that your side of the situation is heard by the masses. Avoid the temptation to get caught up in any kind of hysteria however, and make every effort to post a response which is even-tempered, understanding, and conciliatory toward the offended customer.
Be quick and be patient
These two bits of advice may sound like they’re at odds with each other, but they’re really not, since they refer to two different things. You should be quick in the sense that you are regularly looking for feedback provided by customers, so that you are aware of complaints fairly soon after they have been posted. If you pay no attention whatsoever to customer reviews, there could be a lot of negativity surfacing about your products or services that you don’t even know about. Make a point of regularly checking on customer reviews, perhaps every Monday, so that you’re not caught unawares.
Patience in this sense refers to situations where you have discovered a new customer review which is negative, and you are tempted to sit down and start typing out a response immediately. That almost never works out well. Instead, you should consider the complaint with a cool head, look into the matter to see if it’s a legitimate complaint, and then draft a response which addresses the issues brought forth by your customer review. Once you’re satisfied that you’ve covered all the negative points satisfactorily, make sure to proofread your response, and eliminate any uncomplimentary language before posting. A reasoned response is always received better by readers, than one which is obviously expressed in the heat of the moment, and sometimes even insulting.
Provide your contact information
This is something you should not do in every single case, but if there is a particularly disturbing negative customer review, you can demonstrate to all other readers that you really do care about making it right, by providing your personal contact information. This shows readers that you are a person too, and not just a corporation whose only concern is profits. When readers understand that you’re one of them, they are much more apt to be understanding and empathetic.