No business wants to receive a less-than-glowing review. However, when handled correctly, negative reviews can serve as opportunities to improve your business and strengthen customer relationships.
The key is knowing how to respond to them correctly.
Research from Podium shows that responding to reviews matters more than ever. 51 per cent of AU consumers say that a business’s responses to reviews have changed their perspective on the business.
Approximately 52 per cent of customers who have left a bad review expect to receive a response from the business within 7 days. And best practice is responding within 2 hours.
By appropriately responding to negative reviews, you can increase your chances of retaining dissatisfied customers—and getting new ones.
Podium have produced a complete guide to handling negative reviews, and can share the following step-by-step process to follow:
Apologise. Customers leave negative reviews for all kinds of reasons. Maybe your business did everything right and the customer was having a bad day. Maybe your employee had good intentions but fell short in a particular circumstance. Regardless of the reason, every response should begin with a sincere apology. By apologising, you show your customers that you not only care about their experience but also listen to their feedback.
Stay calm. Any response you craft should be cool-headed and collected. The worst thing you can do is let your emotions take the reins. Something said in the heat of the moment can ruin your business’s hard-earned reputation. If possible, have someone who isn’t directly involved in the incident respond to the review. For example, if a review refers to one of your salespeople, that particular person shouldn’t write the response.
Offer a solution. Even more important than apologising is offering to fix the problem. Show that you’ve really put some thought into the solution rather than simply cutting and pasting a response. You might also consider offering a refund or promotion of some kind, especially if the mistake is yours.
Move the conversation to a private channel. Offer to speak to the customer privately by suggesting that you move the conversation to a private channel. This doesn’t mean you don’t believe in transparency; it’s simply easier to communicate over the phone or text instead of going back and forth on review platforms. This will ensure the problem is resolved as quickly as possible.
Implement the feedback. Companies pay thousands of dollars for data that will help them optimise their customer experience. Reviews give you this data for free. Use your review process to create a feedback loop where you consistently alter existing processes to improve your customer experience. This loop can provide valuable insights that will help to boost your ratings.
An example of these steps in action might look like this:
Terrible. The repairman was running 20 min. late and didn’t even let me know. Would NOT recommend.
We’re so sorry to hear that your experience was a negative one. We’d love to make it up to you. Please accept a full refund for your repair fee, on us. Our Customer Service Manager will reach out to you in the next day or two to help resolve the issue.
The business might then alter their process to have their employees text the customer if they are running late. Small changes like this will elevate their customer experience, leading to more positive reviews and leads. And the cycle repeats.
Responding to negative reviews isn’t difficult—it’s simple. It involves putting your customers first with a focus on speed and sincerity. If you’re lucky, you might just be able to turn those negative reviews into positive ones.
Learn more about negative reviews and download the full guide for how to handle them here.