Every business gets them. It doesn’t matter how careful you are, how well trained your staff are, and how competitive your prices are, a few negative reviews are inevitable.
Don’t feel too rubbish – bad reviews can be an opportunity. They’ll tell you things about your business you didn’t know and give you insight into what your customers are paying attention to. “45% of consumers say they’re more likely to visit a business that responds to negative reviews”, so you can actually improve your business by creating a considered response. This is how to do it.
Put your objective hat on
Not taking it personally can be the hardest part, but it’s an essential first step. To stop yourself from being sensitive or defensive, try to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. They don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, so they’re just reacting to what they experienced in the moment.
Hopefully negative reviews will be pretty rare, but every time you face a new one, you’ll be a little bit better at taking it on the chin.
Take it seriously
“94% of consumers say a bad review has convinced them to avoid a business”, so criticism isn’t worth ignoring.
Even if a review is a bit OTT, there’ll be some truth in there. If there was an issue with how long it took to get served, there was a lack of choice, or a member of staff apparently wasn’t very attentive, that’s all worth investigating.
Respond within a few days
Massive online businesses have social media accounts set up specifically for immediate customer service. A small business like yours can’t always get back to someone that quickly, but with criticism that’s actually a bit of a blessing.
“53% of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week”, but 2-3 days is ideal. Having some time to process the comments means you’re more likely to respond well. That first burst of irritation or emotion could get you typing things you’ll regret later.
If it’s pretty serious, call or email the customer
If a review makes you want to get to the bottom of something, or the reviewer is particularly vocal, it’s better to contact them directly before (or instead of) responding publicly.
You won’t be airing any dirty laundry (never a good look), your customer will feel listened to, and you’re more likely to fix the problem. If the review platform they used gives them the option to take their review down, they might want to!
Remember all your good reviews
Negative reviews can feel pretty bad, even if you’ve done everything you can.
It’s easier to move on and put your energy into keeping other customers happy. Look back at all your positive reviews, talk to your customers face to face, make sure they’ve got everything they need. A few smiles and ‘thank yous’ will make any negative review seem a lot less important.
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