How to Handle Negative Online Reviews
In the age of the internet, word can travel quickly about your business, especially if a customer leaves an online review. There is certainly no shortage of avenues for people to voice their opinions online. Reviews can be left on social media sites, consumer reporting sites and even your own website if you have a page set up for it. Having so many outlets for reviews can be fantastic for your business. Who wouldn't want someone raving about their business where it's visible to a countless number of people? The problem arises when customers leave negative reviews, or worse, flat out bash your business. So what should you do when this happens? Here are 3 simple tips to help you navigate through the negativity:
1. Don't Ignore the Review
Ignoring a negative review is rarely a good idea because it makes it look as though you don't care. The only time you should ignore a review is if it contains inappropriate language or other inappropriate content. If possible, delete these types of reviews. As much as you believe a review is out of line, your best option is to respond to it. Many times, responding to the complaint is enough to get to the root of the issue and solve it. Also, it shows that you care about your customers and believe in taking the time to resolve issues. Not only does your reviewer see this, but so does everyone else who views the conversation online.
2. Follow the 3 Strike Rule
What's the 3 strike rule? It's pretty simple really. What it means is that you'll only respond to a reviewer 3 times in public when trying to resolve an issue. So here's how the scenario would go:
Customer: I placed my order 2 weeks ago and I still don't have it. What gives? ABC Company is the worst! I'm never ordering from them again!
You: I'm sorry you haven't received your order. I'd be happy to help you track it. What is your order number?
Customer: I don't want to figure this out. I want my money back!
You: That's fine, although I would like to see if we can locate your order first. It may be arriving any day now.
Customer: I already told you what I want. Just give me my money back!
You: Sure thing sir. Let's continue this conversation privately and so I can resolve this for you right away.
As you can see, the customer in the above scenario is pretty irate and not willing to be reasonable. This is fine, it's just no longer a conversation you want to have publicly. You've shown you're willing to help, the customer has shown they're unreasonable, and youve given him 3 chances to work things out. Carrying on this conversation any further in public is risking things getting really out of hand in front of other people. Take the safe route and move things over to a private message, email, or better yet, a phone call.
3. Research and Respond
You should always answer negative reviews (or any review for that matter) in a timely fashion, but do your best to gather all of the necessary information prior to responding. Talk to employees mentioned in the review, pull up ordering records, track the customer's shipment, etc. Often times, you'll be able to resolve the issue right off the bat if you're properly prepared going in. Also, being prepared will make it easier for you to help your customer immediately instead of telling them you'll look into things and get back to them later. They're already upset with your business, don't make them wait longer than they have to for a solution.