Tuesday April 2, 2019
Today's blog post is by Samantha Brannon.
Unfortunately, no one in online business can be perfect at all times. We make mistakes, and get negative customer reviews in return.
For online businesses, they are quite a challenge because they can convince prospective customers to buy from competitors instead of us. For example, here are some of the key stats that demonstrate the importance of online reviews for making or breaking your business (source: Local Consumer Review Survey 2017):
- 85 percent of online shoppers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
- 49 percent of consumers need at least a 4-star review to buy from a business.
- 73 percent of customers say that positive reviews make them trust a business more.
- 30 percent of online shoppers say that responding to reviews is critical for them to form an opinion about a business.
Clearly, we’re living in the age of consumer reviews and digital word-of-mouth, so managing and shaping online reputation becomes critical for online businesses.
Well, if you’re reading this article, chances are that you want to learn how to diffuse a negative review and maybe turn an unsatisfied customer into a customer who is willing to change their review.
If this sounds good, here are the best practices for responding to negative feedback about your products or business.
1. You Must Respond
This one seems like a no-brainer, but lots of businesses fail to respond to negative reviews. Doing so is quite dangerous to their reputation, because we live in a super transparent online society ruled by digital word-of-mouth.
Failing to respond to a negative review means that a business doesn’t care about collecting feedback and improving.
Clearly, not a lot of people will be willing to do business with such a company, so ignoring negative reviews is not an option.
Besides, there’s good evidence that replying to reviews even results in better rankings. For example, this fresh study described by Harvard Business Review's website stated that responding to reviews, both negative and positive, contributed to 12 percent more reviews and an average rating increase of 0.12 stars.
According to the study, the researchers examined tens of thousands of hotel reviews and responses from TripAdvisor and found that only one-third of them received a response from businesses. Once hotels started responding, they received more reviews and their rating slowly increased.
The key takeaway here is that simply responding to negative reviews can have a significant impact on customers’ perceptions of how they’re being treated, so don’t ignore reviews no matter what they say about your business.
2. Respond Quickly
If the customer spent their time writing a review, it means that their experience was significant and they thought it was important enough to let you know about it. To demonstrate that your business values their opinion and treats every customer request as urgent, you should respond as quickly as possible.
According to the 2018 ReviewTrackers Online Reviews Survey, 53 percent of customers expect businesses to reply to negative reviews within a week, but you should try to do it within 48 hours.
3. Fix the Problem
“The main goal of each response to a negative consumer review is to resolve the issue described,” explains Sam Pluhowski, a customer relationship management expert at BestUKWriters. “Yes, not just respond, but demonstrate that you’re working to fix the problem.”
For example, take a look at how San Pedro Fish Market and Restaurant replied to negative feedback by one of their customers on their official Facebook page:
Why their response is good:
- They thanked the customer for the review
- They displayed empathy and apologized for the customer’s experience
- They demonstrated their willingness to fix the problem and described the solution they’re going to implement
- They ended on a positive note by offering to try new locations.
4. Don’t Get Personal
“Getting personal with a customer who wrote a negative review is one of the worst things you could do,” advises Jessica Fender, an expert writer at 99HomeworkHelp. “Remember: everything you write in your response is out in the public for all to see.”
And since customers have a lot of power online, you can get in a lot of trouble for being impulsive or angry.
Think of future customers: would they want to do business with your company if they saw your reply? If they see an angry reply, they can spread negativity all over your reputation online, so instead of getting personal, always try to assess the situation and take the high road.
For example, take a look at the customer’s review example, above. No matter what the customer says about the business, the reply is polite, professional, and civil.
Here are the things that you should avoid to remain professional:
- Writing a lengthy, drawn out reply
- Claiming that your business/employee was 100 percent professional in that situation
- Claiming that customer is wrong
- Trying to prove a point to the reviewer
- Inviting a rebuttal from the customer.
To ensure a response that meets these requirements, many businesses rely on proofreading and sentiment measurement tools like Social Mention, FlyWriting, Sentiment Analyzer, and The Essay Typer.
5. Offer to Take Conversation Offline
In some cases, the best way to resolve a customer’s issue is to talk about it privately (e.g. on the phone or over email). So, if you think you’ve encountered a situation that requires you to talk to the customer further to fix the problem, feel free to provide some contact details in your reply so they can reach you.
By doing so, you’re showing your willingness to spend additional time and effort to satisfy your customers’ needs. That’s pretty serious, and customers appreciate when businesses go an extra mile to resolve their frustrations.
For example, here’s how Opera Café Lounge NYC did it.
The customer clearly had a serious issue, so they invited her to call them and asking for a specific manager who has been assigned to resolve the issue. Well done.
Receiving and responding to negative reviews can be a difficult process, but it’s your duty to make your customers feel heard and valued.
Remember: a customer that wrote a negative review spent his or her time trying to let you know where your business fails to deliver a great experience, so you should appreciate their time and effort.
Moreover, responding to reviews – even negative ones – has more benefits, such as building your positive online reputation and improving your business.
Hopefully, the tips above will help you to improve your skills in responding to negative reviews and unlocking the benefits they provide.
Samantha Brannon is a digital entrepreneur and freelancer. She loves self-education and rock music. You can connect with her via Twitter.