If you’re doing business in the 21st century, sooner or later you’ll receive negative feedback online – it’s par for the course. No matter how superlative your customer service, every business slips up occasionally. And because of the 24/7/365 sounding board that is the Internet, chances are, you’ll hear about it online.
So you did an online search and found a negative review for your company. How do you proceed?
Keep It Positive
This should go without saying, and we’d let it, if we hadn’t witnessed time and time again businesses getting defensive and hostile when responding to negative reviews.
The single most important thing you can do when handling negative reviews is to remain polite, upbeat, and understanding. It’s crucial for keeping up your brand image and maintaining a sense of professionalism in front of all those other online review readers.
Engage The Concern
Sure, maybe your business was having a really rough time that particular day because of unforeseen circumstances. Or maybe the customer misunderstood the product/service. Whatever the nature of the negative feedback, you should acknowledge it as valid.
Customers have no idea what happens behind the scenes of a business, and they usually don’t consider that they may be among hundreds of other customers. Their negative feedback might be relevant or it might be completely preposterous, but as the customer’s point-of-view, it matters.
Offer To Help
Whatever the customer was unsatisfied with, offer to fix it (within reason). Doing so will show other customers that you care about your reputation and stand behind your product/service. Usually, you’ll want to give the customer some way to contact you in order to resolve the issue.
Play To Your Strengths
One of the best ways to handle negative feedback is to turn it around and highlight a positive feature of your business in your response. We’re not talking about making excuses. But if the customer experienced a service problem during a time when you had a particularly high influx of business, or if an item was out of stock because you source all your products from local organic markets, highlight these positives in the course of addressing their concern.
Report Suspicious Feedback
Remember that thing we said about engaging all concerns as valid? Forget about it if you suspect foul play. If someone is obviously trying to troll your Yelp page, is leaving the same negative feedback for every competing business in the area, or is being belligerent, immediately report the review as spam (important: do not engage the commenter yourself) and get it taken down.
Negative feedback will happen no matter what, so you better put on a brave face and be ready for it. The techniques above will help you to get the most mileage out of the otherwise unpleasant experience of getting negative reviews online.