Not sure how to deal with negative customer feedback? In this article, you'll learn why it's important not to ignore bad reviews and how to respond.
What Do You Need to Know About Negative Reviews
No one is happy when they receive negative feedback from customers. But now and then, it can happen. Besides, it's just part of a healthy business cycle. The good news is that you can use bad reviews to improve your customer service and engage with your customers.
The way a company responds to customer feedback is a strong signal to the potential buyer to make a decision. Here is how it works.
Read more about why fake reviews don't work in this article: Why Fake Reviews Never Work and How to Get Real Ones
- Red flag. The company does not respond to feedback. A bunch of unanswered, conflicting reviews is confusing and can scare off customers. This also leads potential customers to think the company is dysfunctional and choose a competitor. The result is sad because you lose potential customers.
- Yellow flag. The company responds only to positive reviews. Such a strategy gives the impression that the company cares only about satisfied customers. Those who have shared their less pleasant experiences do not feel worthy of attention. In this case, you might lose customers, as it is important for them to be heard and acknowledged.
- Green flag. The company responds promptly to all comments. This gives the impression that the business owner cares about their customers. Moreover, a quick response sometimes helps to put out the fire of negative feedback and get through a difficult situation well.
Why it is Important to Respond to Negative Reviews
A proper response to a negative review can not only bring back a dissatisfied customer. It also shows those who have just decided that the company cares about the customer. Here are some more reasons why you should never let a negative review go unanswered.
- It shows your personality. People make mistakes, it's how we handle them that makes the difference. Responding to a negative review with dignity shows that there is a real person behind your company who is willing to make the situation better. So it's a perfect opportunity to show some compassion, humor, and empathy.
- It lets your customers see that you care. By responding quickly to negative comments, you show that you are upset about your customer's bad experience and want to rectify the situation. This shows your openness and helps build trust between your company and your customers.
- Responding to negative reviews is vital to your online reputation. Pay attention to what people are writing about your business on various review platforms. Dealing promptly with negative reviews online is a great way to improve your company's reputation over time. Seeing that you are taking the issue seriously is also a good sign for potential customers.
Types of Negative Reviews
Negative reviews can be divided according to a variety of criteria. However, the two largest groups are:
- Situations where the company is directly “at fault”.
The most common reason for bad reviews is that the customer is not satisfied with the product or service quality. The food was bland or tasteless, the hairdresser gave a bad haircut, the waiter was rude to the customer, and the car that was just repaired broke down the next day. In this case, the customer rightfully leaves a bad review, and the company has to find out what went wrong.
A restaurant guest praised the quality of the service, but was dissatisfied with the quality of the food and the incorrect bill
- Situations where the problem was caused by the fact that the reality did not meet the expectations of the customer, or by misunderstanding.
Let us say a customer has a romantic date at a café whose audience consists mainly of parents with children. Afterward, he leaves a bad review about how the inappropriate atmosphere and the screaming of children ruined his date. This is an example of a situation where the customer's bad experience is because he did not research the café before going there.
A customer left a negative review because his request was not met. Although the hotel staff only followed the internal safety rules.
Situations of the first type are very common and easier to handle. Once a problem is found, you need to focus on solving it and figuring out how to improve the customer experience. It is in your power not only to comfort the customer but also to offer them a concrete, measurable solution to their problem.
The second type of bad feedback is more unpredictable, as different customers can be triggered by a variety of issues. Some bad reviews may seem unfounded and hurtful to you. «It's certainly not my fault,» you'll say, and you may be right. But your reaction to a bad review will determine the impression the customer will have of your business.
Let’s find out how to deal with them.
How Do I Respond to Negative Reviews?
Here are some tips on how to handle a negative review.
Answer quickly. But not too quickly. As stated earlier, a timely response shows that you are concerned with the issue and that it is important to you. Do not let negative reviews go unanswered or accumulate for too long.
At the same time, some reviews can be very unpleasant or complicated. You might even lose your temper or not know how to respond. Take some time to calm down, read the review carefully and make a draft of what you want to say to the customer in question. Then write a polite and clear response. Ideally, you should respond within 24—48 hours from the time the customer submitted their review.
Be polite, always. Greet the customer and thank them for taking the time to write the review. It is good practice to adhere to high business and communication standards.
The company responds to a bad review with a friendly and polite tone. This is the best policy when it comes to negative feedback.
- Acknowledge the complaint. It's frustrating to read that someone didn't like your product or service. It’s even more frustrating when it wasn’t directly caused by you. But it's important to acknowledge and validate a bad customer experience, regardless of why it happened. So take a deep breath and show some empathy.
Express regret and sympathize. It is appropriate to apologize even if the company is not directly to blame and the poor customer experience was caused by other reasons. Don’t be too proud. Expressing regret that your customer was not satisfied with their experience shows that you are empathetic and genuinely care.
«We are very sorry that your experience did not meet your expectations. We want you to enjoy your time with us, and we will do better next time.»
«We apologize that your interaction with our company was not as pleasant as you expected.»
“We strive to provide a high standard of service and we are sorry to hear that something went wrong. Let us figure out how to fix the problem.”
Take responsibility. When responding to a negative review, it's easy to fall into excuses and defensiveness. This isn't a good strategy if you take a customer-centric approach and value your clients. Set the bar high and focus on improving the situation.
Show your customers that you stand by your mistakes, even if they are isolated incidents. Show a willingness to understand the situation, take their side, and resolve the issue.This is a good example of a response to a negative review. The company does not try to avoid responsibility, but acknowledges the error and offers the customer to find a solution
Explain yourself when necessary. The customer who gave a negative review is already frustrated and sad. The last thing he needs is your excuses.
Nevertheless, negative reviews on the Internet can be read by anyone. If necessary, comment briefly on what happened. Do not justify yourself, but explain clearly why the situation occurred. This shows that you are not shirking responsibility.
The concept of “basic” or “minimun” service is different for all customers. Therefore, it is sometimes helpful to say more about the situation in response to a negative review. This way, potential customers who read the review will have a more complete picture.
Invite the customer to continue the conversation offline. Once the apology has been made, it is time to take the discussion offline. Talking directly to the customer is more effective than having a discussion in a public online space. Ask the customer to contact you by phone or email and give them direct contact information.
“We would like to deliver a better experience next time and would like to hear more from you. Please do not hesitate to reach us anytime at [Email Address] or call our team at [Phone Number]. We will try to make things right as soon as possible!”
«We would love the opportunity to improve the situation and hear more about your experience. Would you be willing to contact us at [Email Address] or call our team at [Phone Number]? We will do our best to find a solution that works for you.”
- If the situation can be remedied, offer a solution to the customer. If you can not do anything, respond to the negative review with a compelling public response. Take responsibility, express your sincere regret, and show your willingness to make things right in the future.
- Leave the door open. Be flexible and show empathy so that even dissatisfied customers can give you a second chance. Invite them to come back and give them the best experience possible. If you handle the situation well, next time they will probably want to give you a good review or tell their friends about the positive experience.