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Of course you want to deliver the best experience to your customers. So of course you strive to improve your business as much as possible. Since a business is an imperfect organization made up of imperfect people, though, something will inevitably slip through the cracks. When it does, it’s reasonable to expect that an unhappy customer will leave a negative review.
Rather than fret about this impending inevitability, prepare for it. Because you and your team can handle negative reviews poorly, or you can handle them with grace. When you manage the latter, you’ll be surprised at how much it can actually help grow your business. Read on to learn three tips for handling feedback to start improving your customer relations today.
1. Enlist Tech Assistance
There’s a lot to learn about the etiquette of handling negative reviews. First and foremost, however, you need a robust system in place so you can address them at all. Because how can you respond to a review if you don’t even know it’s there?
Reviews can show up on all sorts of different sites. You may get one on Google, Yelp, Etsy, Amazon, Shopify — the list goes on. Obviously, it can be hard to keep track of all these reviews by checking and rechecking websites over and over. You need to get a handle on where reviews are being left so you can address them as quickly as possible. That’s why you need to enlist some tech assistance.
Implementing a CRM for small business with reputation management capabilities is a great way to monitor your online reputation. Such CRMs can comb through popular review sites and alert you every time a new review pops up. That way, when a negative review does appear, you’ll know right away.
If you already have a CRM without this feature, you may be able to integrate it with a reputation management solution to gain this capability. Time is of the essence when handling negative feedback, and operating without the necessary tech puts you at a significant disadvantage. Using a CRM with reputation management features means you can surface negative reviews and start handling them immediately.
2. Leave Genuine Responses
When it comes to actually responding to bad reviews, you need to be authentic. Giving unhelpful responses to someone’s poor experience will just drive them further away. People aren’t stupid — they know when they’re getting generic or insincere answers to their complaints. A major part of growing a good business is treating your customers with respect. So avoid inauthentic responses at all costs.
Instead, aim to sympathize with your customers. Approach your responses from a place of curiosity, respect, and integrity. Whenever possible, personalize your response by addressing your customers by name and briefly summarizing their comments. This gives them an opportunity to feel heard and not like they’ve gotten cheated by your business.
Always include an apology when responding to a negative review, even if you don’t agree with what it’s saying. Sure, the situation may not be your fault, or this person may be blowing things out of proportion. But “the customer is always right” is true when it comes to how a customer feels. Validate their feelings and do your best to remedy the situation. Even if there’s nothing you can do, acknowledge your customer’s experience and take responsibility for it.
3. Don’t Delete Negative Reviews
As you start to receive negative reviews, it can be tempting to simply delete them, especially at first. Who can blame you for wanting to keep your public record squeaky clean? But bear in mind that no person or company is without flaw. So it’s natural that a customer will receive a less-than-stellar experience eventually. It’s just as natural that your business will eventually receive less-than-stellar feedback.
This is why it’s so crucial to improve your ability to respond to negative reviews. Rather than hoping you can avoid them entirely, it’s better to focus your efforts on improving your responses. You may be surprised at how good a negative review can actually be for your business. A bad experience is actually an opportunity for your business to provide above-and-beyond customer service.
Say a customer leaves a negative review of your product because the item they received was damaged during manufacturing. Now you have the chance to send them a quality replacement, expedited, at no further cost to them. Other customers and prospects will witness this narrative play out through your response to this customer’s feedback. They’ll see that, even when something goes wrong, your business maintains its integrity and puts the customer first. Such responses can increase trust in your brand, which is essential to developing your business.
Responding to a negative review isn’t something you need to do once then never think of again. While you can take steps to minimize negative feedback, it will be an ongoing part of your business you’ll need to attend to. This is especially true as your reach grows and you start to interact with more customers.
As nice as it would be, running a flawless business just isn’t possible. And more customers mean more chances to make a mistake. Fortunately, mistakes present chances for redemption. So do your best to treat your mistakes as the opportunities they are. Use them to show the world your business’s integrity, principles, and reliability.