Any business with an online presence knows that there's a possibility that at some point, a customer may become angry enough to take some action in the form of a negative review. And maybe those angry "fingertips of courage" typed out something super infuriating about your company. Maybe now you’re upset and wondering what in the world you can do about it. The good news is, you aren’t alone: in today’s digital-savvy world where customers do almost all of their research online before they buy, this is a very common occurrence. Unfortunately, since customers are far more likely to leave a bad review than a good one, the chances of receiving one are pretty high. But although they're quite common, you shouldn’t discredit the importance of a negative review or not take action. In all reality, your response to the review is almost equally important to the review itself.
Focus on the Customer Problem, Not the Website
After a negative review is published, keep in mind that the likelihood of you getting it removed from the website where it was posted is pretty low, so don’t spend a ton of time with that approach unless you have a very viable reason. More often than not, review sites have policies and procedures against removing negative reviews. The only instances where you might be successful with attempting to get the review taken down is if the review was posted to the wrong business by mistake, or if it includes hate speech or personal information about someone. If it was a legitimate customer who did business with you, they have the right to publish whatever feedback they want to about that experience.
Despite that somewhat discouraging news, there are still some steps you can take to ensure the review has the least negative impact as possible.
The most important step you can take is to respond to the review in a professional and compassionate way. Even if the reviewer is making irrational claims or withholding important information as to why they had such a poor experience, do not respond in a way that comes across as rude, passive aggressive, or angry. Provide more information if needed, but in a respectful fashion. If you respond hastily, it will likely make the situation far worse because it will provide visibility for other potential customers to not only read all the details of the poor customer experience, but also how you respond to customers when unfortunate things happen. Keep your “the customer is always right” hat on while you craft your response.
Once you are sure you are calm enough to reply, consider approaching it both publicly and privately.
Public Review Response: Respond publicly on the review site apologizing for the experience and offering a suggestion about how you plan to solve the problem for both that customer as well as other customers in the future.
Private Review Response: Contact the reviewer privately by phone or email to address the issue and offer some type of solution. This showcases not just a public persona of customer care, but also establishes an open line of communication to actually solve the problem.
Most sites allow reviewers to log back in to edit or remove their review, so if you approach the situation with a problem-solving and customer-first attitude, you might be able to get the reviewer to a point where they are happy enough with your response that they'll remove it.
Negative Review Prevention
After dealing with one negative review, you’ll want to ensure it doesn’t happen again. There are some actionable ways you can prevent this from happening to your business.
The very best way to ensure you stay ahead of angry customers, you need to ask them at or near the end of the purchase process if they are happy with the product or service you are providing to them. This can even be a system you automate through your CRM or marketing automation tools, so once the relationship hits a certain stage (some examples of this could be one week after you ship the product to them, or perhaps one month before their contract ends) an email is generated asking them how their experience was with your company. If you receive a negative response back, take the initiative right away to contact the individual so you can repair the situation before they go online and publish a negative review.
Are your customers really loyal to you? Find out here.
Additionally, this survey process can also provide insight into the clients who are the biggest advocates for your brand. Surveys that result in favorable customer experiences can provide you with a great marketing asset. You can then turn positive customer survey responses into testimonials or reach out and ask those happy customers to post positive reviews online. Think about it, if you have 30 5-star reviews and only one 2-star, most buyers today would see that as a sign that something odd or unexpected happened to cause that one poor review and they’d look beyond it. Most educated buyers today understand that a bad review doesn’t mean a bad business.
Ultimately, remember that customers today want to feel like their voice matters, so the more you encourage them to use it in a supportive way as champions of your business, the more positive your overall online presence will become.