The first thing you must do is face the fact that negative reviews happen, whether deserved or not; and your best step is to put in place a professional and intelligent way to respond. There is no question about responding to them, you have to; and here are a few tips for any business manager, client retention manager, or customer service personnel that is involved with handling your online reputation.
First things first, check your attitude at the door
Sure, there are negative reviews that are just so wrong and so inappropriate (not to mention inaccurate) that they make your blood boil, and you want to whip out a few blistering sentences that clearly indicate to the negative reviewer how you feel. That is absolutely he wrong way to respond. That reaction may sound good on a personal level, but if you are representing your company in any way responsibly, you make a terrible mistake by having that kind of an attitude and posting a response the negatively represents your business and your customer service for years to come.
The half-life of an unprofessional response to an online negative review? Years
Search engines have incredibly long memories and an unprofessional response to an online negative review will come back to haunt you for a very long time, likely forever. Not only that, but your responses are there for all of your potential clients to see, so they also get a taste of the lack of professionalism and uncaring attitude you have expressed in your response to a negative online review. Since getting new clients and customers is one half of the business ball game, you must never respond to an online negative review in anger or defensiveness. That is a guaranteed way to drive potential customers away.
Treat the online negative review as a way to grow and learn
Take the time to actually read past the anger and the (possible profanities), and then formulate a response. Assessing the situation objectively is imperative. Determine whether or not the complaint is honest and valid, and if it is, correct the situation.If someone received poor service, poor or non-functioning product, or was over-billed, take the steps in your response to explain to the complainant how you are going to rectify the situation, and what the time frames are for those corrections. Ascertain that these fixes are acceptable for the client, and as always, be unfailingly polite and professional in your response. Ask what more you can do in order to appease the negative reviewer, making sure that your company is able to make good on the corrections.
Challenge yourself to save that customer
It isn’t about you per se; it is about your ability to make grumpy and wronged clients happy. You are the pro; you do not need to be saved. Not only that, but your clear and professional and fair responses are just the types of things that potential clients want to read when considering your company for anything, so know that. You are attempting to appease an irritated customer, so tread lightly, and above all, be polite.
- Always offer your name and a direct way for you to be contacted in your department or office
- Respond in a cool, professional manner, but do not seem detached
- Always assume that the client has the right to be angry, and then set about diffusing that anger. Do not take their anger personally, take it professionally. Hear them!
- Always respond in a manner that keeps the future of your customer, your company and your reputation, or your company’s reputation in good standing.
- Never attempt to lecture, harangue or dismiss a valid negative online review poster. These people do not want to be told what to do, they want you to make good on your promise, so remember that. Never say things like “… well you shouldn’t have…” or “… I do not believe that happened…” etc.
- As best you can, be pro-active in your solutions and communications with the unhappy client. That shows people that you care more than just about anything else. Suggest alternate methods of fixing the problem if they do not like the ones you are offering. Communicate with them immediately if something comes up, (delayed shipping, or processing, discovery of new information about the case, etc.). Make sure that you as a business owner or as a customer service person can meet your agreements with the client, do not promise the world and then not be able to follow through.
Most people respond positively to attentive customer service personnel, no matter how angry they are initially
The solutions oriented and professional customer service person will tell you that time and time again, they have taken a raging customer from the volcanic state to a somewhat pleased and hopeful state in just a few short minutes of conversation. This is not magic, nor is it a miracle science, good customer service relies on having a good ear to listen to the problem, and the tools to respond to that problem promptly and in a fashion that suits the negative reviewer. With the explosion of the internet reviewing community, it is imperative that all of those excellent responses get aired or posted every bit as much as the unhappy reviews are aired and posted. When potential clients read about the (great) solution you came up with for your unhappy online reviewer, they should be encouraged to use your company or your services.
The bogus negative online review
They happen, and you need to deal with these also. If a negative online review is frankly bogus and dishonest, you go about that situation in the same way that you would an honest one; with a cool head and a lot of information to back you up.
Get your support and your information right in front of you before engaging.
Line up your ducks, as it were. Get all the information you need to have in order to respond to the bogus negative review; how, why, when, where, etc. Do some homework, check tracking numbers, check shipping dates, check purchase dates, and check to see what was actually purchased. The more information you have proving that they are being dishonest in their negative reviews, the better of a chance you will have to get the negative review removed. Make sure that all of your attempts at fixes are posted just as visibly as his or her complaints are, and above all, be unfailingly polite in your written responses. Do not respond to emotion with emotion, ever.
The negative online review as an education
The better you are at handling an online negative review, the better it will reflect on the company or firm that you work for, and the better your online reputation will be. If you own the company, this is almost a no brainer. Once you have learned how to handle the negative online reviews, train all of your people how to do it, and then turn these situations into gold by turning an angry customer into a loyal customer.
Managing negative reviews is a part of managing your online reputation, It’s is worth it to be thorough and thoughtful when handling negative responses.
How do you handle negative online reviews?