Customer Success Marketing

How to address negative customer feedback

As wonderful as it would be to simply make all negative customer feedback disappear, review management is a bit trickier.

Most sites have strict policies in place around review removal. In most cases, reviews can only be removed if they violate specific terms and conditions, and the removal can only be done by the review site itself. Requesting review removal tends to be a long, lengthy process and you aren’t guaranteed to get your way.

So how CAN you make sure negative reviews don’t damage your business?

If the negative reviewer is a real customer, it could be far more effective to engage in a dialogue and try to resolve the issue one-on-one. More often than not, a dissatisfied customers spew rants on review sites just to let off steam. Acknowledging the customer’s concerns could help cool down the rage and maybe even win loyalty back. Who knows? The customer may even be inclined to update or even delete the review if you handle the issue well enough.

The important thing to remember is, in one way or another, “the customer is always right” — regardless of your frustrations. Responding to bad reviews with accusations comes off as unprofessional and defensive rather than attentive and caring. If your business has some less-than-awesome online reviews, stay calm. There is ample opportunity for damage control. Even the nastiest customer feedback can be overshadowed by enough positive reviews.

This shop got creative and used humor to make the most of a bad review.

 

Handling negative online reviews is an inevitable part of running a business. Learn how to use it to your advantage.

Shift your perspective on review management

Positive business reviews are welcomed with open arms and cause little friction. But here’s the twist: friction can be beneficial, because growth requires feedback–all reviews are feedback.

Negative customer feedback is often even more valuable than positive feedback.

Absorb negative feedback as constructive criticism–your customers may be complaining, but they’re still taking the time to engage with you. Negative online reviews are only posted by customers who care. Return the favor.

Dig deep into customer reviews to pinpoint the issue. Often customers vent in long-winded rants, and the actual problem is difficult to identify amidst that hurricane of emotion. Comments like “worst service” or “horrible quality” are vehement but vague. You may have to directly ask the customer to explain their issue in detail. Once you understand the problem, you can take corrective action.

Remember, when customers post negative reviews, they believe their complaint is valid whether it truly is or not. This means even if they aren’t in the right, something led them to believe they were. Identify what this something is, for perception and reality frequently blur, and enough misconceptions from other customers can lead to a negative business reputation. In your response, clear up any misunderstandings to prevent any future confusion from potential customers.

Don’t react–respond. Address customer complaints promptly and thoroughly: 69% of customers attribute their positive customer service experience to swift resolution of their issue. Fight the knee-jerk urge to defend your business, even if the negative feedback is unfair. As in any human interaction, denials and accusations only elevate conflicts. The shorter the conversation, the better. Also account for the setting: if bad customer reviews are posted on public sites, whatever you say is visible to everyone. Even in private exchanges, however, your response reflects your business as a whole.

This business couldn’t remove their negative review, so they turned it positive with a thoughtful reply.

 

Timely responses show respect, but rushed responses are dangerous. If the negative feedback strikes a nerve, wait until you’ve calmed down to plan out your reply. Take a walk around the block, watch a funny cat video, whatever works. Then begin carefully choosing your words.

Appreciate the voice of the customer. As mentioned above, negative feedback really can benefit your business. Without complaints, a problem may continue repeatedly and possibly worsen. Let your customers know you sincerely appreciate their feedback; even if you had to take a cold bath to quell your fury, don’t let it show. Swallow your pride, thoughtfully acknowledge your customer’s dissatisfaction and thank them respectfully for their feedback. A gracious response can transform livid customers into loyal ones. Ending the conversation on a positive note can spin a customer complaint into an outstanding customer experience.

Provide evidence of customer experience improvement. If you were able to take immediate steps to resolve the problem, let the customer know in your initial response. Otherwise, outline the steps you will take to fix it. If the issue was not promptly resolved before your response, follow-up once you’ve made changes so the customer knows you really listened.

 

Don’t let bad customer reviews get you down. Instead, use them to connect with your customers and nip issues in the bud to keep your online reputation squeaky clean.

 

If you’re willing to listen to your customers and take their feedback to heart to improve your services, you’ll come out ahead in the long run. There are tools out there that make it easy to take control of negative feedback before it becomes problematic. BirdEye sends you alerts the moment a negative review is left for your business and lets you respond immediately to all reviews from one place. Sign up for a free BirdEye trial  to see how easy it can be to manage your online reputation, address negative feedback, and generate more authentic positive reviews that win more customers.

 

About the author

Helen Irias

Helen is a Product Marketing Manager at BirdEye and a reputation management and customer experience expert.

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