March 11, 2014
/ by Sukhraj Beasla
If you’re a business owner, your work is your baby. It’s your blood, sweat and tears. It’s years of hard work and something you want to keep going for lifetimes to come. All that starts to fall apart when you see a negative review. In fact, any criticism is seen as a personal affront. And it hurts.
No matter how much it hurts, every negative review is an opportunity for you to learn something about yourself, your business and how it’s being run. The way you handle negative reviews on a public forum is a reflection of how you’ll deal with these conflicts in person.
When you come across a negative review, it’s important to put aside your feelings and handle each review with grace, humility and professionalism. This will demonstrate your adaptability and remind your customers that behind their bad experience is a business owner who’s working hard to improve their product and the service they provide.
So before you begin to tackle that negative review, take a deep breath, and keep the following guidelines in mind:
Don’t get depressed and bury your head in the sand: Would you turn your back on an angry customer who was standing in front of you? In the age of social media and online reviews, ignoring a customer’s concerns is akin to not returning a phone call. You should respond within 24 hours even if you’re only telling them that you’ll look into this further (especially if it’s employee or product related). Tell them what steps you’re taking and once you have an answer, get back to them quickly.
If you’ve got a Yelp page, a Facebook page, etc., your online presence isn’t just a megaphone to promote your business. It’s also a tool for customer feedback so keep that in mind.
Don’t get angry: Along with feeling sad and depressed, you’ll also be angry. How dare they, right? Try not to get defensive or find another outlet for that anger before you respond to the negative review. There are two sides to every story. Try to remember that. It’s possible that the customer could be misinformed or there could be genuine concerns that you need to address.
In truth, none of that matters. A user’s review is based on their personal experience; an experience that you have to make right or ensure you can make right, if given a second chance.
Don’t use a canned response: You will be ridiculed for this so please don’t. Canned responses can be quickly identified and seen on social platforms so don’t resort to something canned. Make sure you personalize each message and address each issue individually.
Say Thank You: Whether you agree or not, say thank you. Overall, good or bad, it’s feedback and who knows? Maybe you did learn something from it. Maybe it helped improve your business? You never know. If you listen to their concern and address the issue, everyone wins.
Apologize: Say thank you and apologize. Make it a genuine sorry and perhaps combine it with an offer. Be a real person, be genuine and if their review did help your overall process, let them know that.
Take the conversation offline: Sometimes, a bad review can get heated. When you respond, offer an email address and/or telephone number to take the conversation offline, learn more about the situation, and get it resolved as quickly as possible. The worst thing for your business is to see the drama unfold on your social networks. Don’t let it get to that point.
The bottom line is people just want to be heard. If they’ve had a bad experience, they want to feel like you’ll do something about it and fix it. If you show them you care, respond in a timely matter, and actually fix the problem you’ll win back your customer and they’ll also tell others and guess what? You’ll win even more.
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