Negative reviews online drum up fear and palpitations in small-business owners. Here are a few tips to dealing with them, and more importantly, dealing with your perception of them.
There are two things to remember when it comes to negative reviews:-
1: You're going to receive negative reviews, no matter how good you are.
2: Negative reviews are not the end of the world, so stop worrying about them.
All businesses receive negative reviews. It's a fact of life that your product or service is not going to benefit everyone who comes across it. You can mitigate bad reviews by supplying great service and great products, of course, but also, great information. The more information you give you your customers before they pay a penny (or cent) to you, the better they will know whether your product or service is a match for them.
But this post isn't about preventing negative reviews, because I'm going to assume you're already doing everything you can to avoid them. We're here to talk about what happens when you get one.
1: Don't take it personally.
It's a negative review. It's about your business, the one you work your fingers to the bone building up. And someone has come along and personally insulted you and now you feel like packing it all in.
Never take a bad review personally. Consider that the customer might have been having a bad day when they wrote it. Consider also that they might be right. Whatever happens though, they're probably not blaming you personally (even if they say they are). Taking negative feedback personally might lead to anger, and might also lead to a response from you that you'd later regret. Which leads us on to....
2: Don't immediately respond.
Like, within the first 30 seconds of reading the negative review. Especially if it's particularly scathing, or even unjustified in your eyes. Anger and online review responses should never mix, so you should step away from the keyboard for an hour or so, or until you've got all the facts together about the incident.
The calmer you are in your response, the easier it will be to appease the customer. If you can't appease them, then the value of responding is that any potential future customer will be reading - you can let them know how you deal with mistakes.
3: Apologise where necessary.
Everyone makes mistakes. Maybe the delivery was late. Maybe you said you'd do something when you didn't. Maybe the broccoli was overcooked. These are all pretty valid points. Especially about the broccoli.
First things first - apologise. Let the customer know that you take their issues seriously, apologise for where you got it wrong, and assure them you'll make changes in the future to ensure it doesn't happen again.
Of course, late deliveries may be out of your control, but this could be an opportunity to look into another delivery company with better on-time statistics.
It might also be time to invest in a vegetable steamer.
4: Ask for fake reviews to be removed
Any reviews that come in that are clearly fake or spam should be removed by the review site hosting them. On Reviews.io, you can do this by flagging the review to us, and our moderation team will investigate it.
In the interest of being an honest, open and trusted source of reviews, it's not possible to have verified reviews removed. However, all businesses can respond to verified reviews posted on our platform.
5: Reach out to the customer privately
Before responding to a review, it is always useful to contact the customer directly if possible. In doing so, you should ensure that you:-
- Thank them for their business
- Let them know you appreciate their feedback
- Address their concerns individually
- Ensure them you'll put procedures in place to mitigate similar issues in the future
Once you've resolved any issues the customer has, it never hurts to ask them to revise their review on the platform in question. Most people would be happy to do so if their complaint is resolved, because by doing so you're validating their concerns and providing a solution.
6: Acknowledge the review publicly
Regardless of whether you have approached the customer privately or not, you should post your public response containing the same points raised in 5 above. If you've got a tonne of great reviews online, people may automatically gravitate to the bad reviews just to see how you respond to customer service issues.
By showing that you care and responding to your negative reviews, you'll be a lot more approachable in your future customers' eyes.
7: Learn and improve
The reason I said at the beginning of this article that negative reviews aren't the end of the world, is because every negative review should be seen as an opportunity to improve. Try and use each one to learn something new, you might discover a new way of doing things to streamline your service.
Don't forget, even if you feel that a negative review is unjustified, your public response can actually improve your reputation with your customers. Leaving a negative review "on the table" gives the impression that you don't care or are unaware of the issue, so we'd encourage you to respond to all your negative reviews with a comment, wherever they appear online.
**BONUS** 8: Encourage your customers to leave reviews
It's pretty widely accepted that most of your happy customers won't tell anyone about their experience without being prompted, while any unhappy customers are likely to actively tell their friends, and perhaps everyone else online.
This is why it's important to implement and maintain a review collection strategy for your business, because the vast majority of your customers will write a positive review for you if prompted to do so.
It's also important to try and maintain a consistent reputation across multiple review platforms, whether they be a Google-licensed third party platform such as Reviews.io, or a social media platform like Facebook.
You can collect reviews on multiple platforms with Reviews.io which really helps you manage all your reviews from across the web in one place. Sign up to request a free demo of the platform and we'll run you through it.