Giving people the opportunity to leave reviews for your company - be it on your website, Facebook or Tripadvisor - can have a huge impact on your reputation. And whilst negative reviews aren't the end of the world, it's not to say you should encourage them. Today, we're going to show you how to avoid negative reviews and keep your online reputation glowing.
Why do customers leave negative reviews?
Believe it or not, customers don't actually want to leave a bad review - they want great service, a quality product and reliable delivery. So when bad feedback is given, it's usally warranted.
The most-common complains are bad service (52%), problems with products (31.4%) and policies they disagree with (16.6%) and when it comes to voicing these complaints, most customers do so to inform other consumers or give feedback to the business, with very few doing so out of anger
8 Ways To Avoid Negative Reviews
Pleasing your customers should be at the heart of everything you do. If you engrain that through your business model from start to finish, chances are, negative reviews will be few and far between. Here are some easy ways to make your customers feel valued, looked-after and less likely to turn to the internet to vent their frustrations.
1. Be your own customer
When was the last time you shopped at your own store or tried to access your own services? You may think you're doing a brilliant job, but until you put yourself in the shoes of your customers, there's no way to know for sure.
Regularly testing your company's performance from an outsider's viewpoint is a sure fire way to identify any problems your customers might be experiencing that could encourage negative reviews. Go through the process from start to finish - placing an order, speaking to customer service, waiting for the delivery - and fix anything that causes you an inconvenience.
2. Be easy to contact
None of us are perfect and even the best-run businesses in the world slip up sometimes. The key is to be prepared when issues do occur by making yourself easily contactable. By giving your customers the opportunity to speak to you about issues they may have, they'll be able to vent their frustrations to you rather than online and it will also give you the opportunity to solve their problem with a solution, thereby preventing those negative reviews.
Every business should have some form of customer service in place that's easy to find and access - be it a call centre or online chat, communication is key.
3. Add more lines of communication
Building on our previous point is increasing your lines of communication. If possible, don't just offer support via email, but also a phone line - often people prefer to hear someone's voice when dealing with a problem. Another great addition is live chat - this is one of the quickest ways for your customers to get answers and to avoid negative reviews left on impulse.
The more opportunity you give the customer to contact you, the more confidence they will have in you as a business and the less likely they are to panic if things do go wrong.
4. Respond quickly to issues
Giving your customers these opportunities to contact you is great, but if they have to wait 48 hours for a response it's no good. 95% of unhappy customers will return if you resolve there issue quickly so speed is key here. It's therefore essential not only to have support in place but a support system that's well staffed and functional. Make sure you can keep up with demand - providing slow, unreliable support is arguably worse than not providing any at all. Take a look at the call centre data above - over 50% of callers abandoned after 45 seconds of waiting. If every unanswered caller was to go on to leave a negative review, you'd see a pretty devastating drop in your star rating, that's for sure.
5. Be as personable as possible
Customer service isn't just about solving the customer's problem - it's also about representing the brand in the best way possible. If you send your customer pre-generated, template responses your customers are not going to feel heard or valued, and regardless of whether or not their problem is solved, they may harness unfriendly feelings toward you which could result in a negative review.
Personal replies are key to customer service success. Make them feel understood, appreciated and well looked after and those 5-stars should come rolling in.
6. Encourage customers to leave reviews
When's the last time you left a review? Left to their own devices, customers can be quite passive when it comes to reviews, with many more reading them than leaving them. However, 77% of customers are willing to leave a review if asked. By actively collecting reviews, you're likely to see positive feedback flooding in with customers eager to reward and thank you for your good service. Whilst this won't prevent negative reviews per se, it will help to cloud them and encourage customers to put them into perspective. After all, one negative review amongst fifty looks much better than one amongst three!
7. Listen to your feedback
It's not enough to simply collect reviews - you need to act upon the feedback you receive. Customer feedback is one of the most important assets your business can have. If you get recurring complaints, do something about it to prevent it from happening in the future and negative-review proof your business.
Having a system set up for handling negative reviews is paramount in preventing future ones.
8. Respond to feedback professionally & personably
Don't let your responses lead to more bad feedback. When replying to negative reviews, stay professional and don't let your emotions take you off on a tangent - all staff should be briefed on this. Help the customer as best you can be giving apologies, explanations and providing a solution to their problem and they may even change their negative review.
It's impossible to completely negative-review proof your business but there are steps you can take to make them less likely. Remember, when they do happen, don't be too hard on yourself! Keep calm and learn how to handle negative reviews correctly, and you'll be surprised at how many benefits they can have.