You pour your heart and soul into your business, so a bad review can feel like a personal slight. The best thing you can do as a business is to view unhappy customers as an opportunity, not only to learn how to do better but also as an opportunity to make things right. It has been shown that customers with a negative experience which has been righted can become a more loyal customer than someone with a neutral or positive experience.
According to Hootsuite ignoring your customer's complaints can put your business's reputation at risk. So the question is what should you do next? We've asked the experts: Krystal Hobbs, #BossLady of Reflective Marketing, Don-E Coady owner of DC Design House, Pizza Expert Trevor Hickey, owner of OLIO and Beth Saunders, marketing manager at The Third Place Cocktail Co.
1. Don't Take It Personally
As personal as they may feel, know that bad reviews aren't actually personal; it could be that that person was having a bad day, and whatever small error your business made sent them over the edge. Or, maybe the bad review is a signal of a problem in your business that you need to fix.
My client called me last week after her latest bad online review. She works in a service industry where customers demand perfection on every front. Totally fair, and yet, there she was, 'turnt'.
Our efforts to establish a consistent and well-branded social connection between her business and her many customers was paved with insecurity and sporadic but always traumatic negative reviews. Meanwhile, we get people, and the many bricks but few bouquets they can carry – especially online, where everyone is beyond reproach – and so, with push button punishments galore, it's no wonder my client was once again freaked over the change in the marketing land scape. I mean, consider the reality: Before, if a customer deemed your service to be unsatisfactory, they'd call you to complain – imagine that!
2. Take a Breather
Take a breather. While you should respond soon, it's better to take the time you need to let your emotions settle, or figure out what actually happened. In the meantime, your biggest fans may even come to your defence.
3. Listen to What Your Customer Is Saying
If someone feels passionate enough to tell people about their experience- good or bad - then they deserve to be heard.
I often find people leave comments out of frustration and don't expect a response, so when you actually engage them and try to find a solution, they're surprised and sometimes change their tone quickly. When you address an issue like this on social media, it is much more than that one-on-one conversation. The response is open to anyone who sees your page or post, and you will be judged for it, good or bad
Acknowledge your reviewer. You should respond the way you would if this person was in your store or office. Even though social media can feel distant, there is a real person behind the screen. Acknowledge their issue, thank them for telling you, apologize for what happened, and let them know how you're going to solve the problem.
If you're frustrated about the situation with this one person and don't want to respond, consider everyone who will see that post and what they will think. If nothing else, respond for the reputation of your business The best thing to do in my opinion is to address the issue, own up to your mistakes, and offer a beneficial solution to the customer to keep them on your side. Generally I apologize for having a bad experience with the business, thank them for reaching out, and try to get to the root of the issue.
Bad reviews on Facebook or any channel equal upfront and honest diffusion. "So sorry your service wasn't a great one. Please contact us privately so we can resolve this matter." are must-do's. If the haters keep hating, our online audience has quickly gotten hip to get that it's not you, it's them. I've seen customers come to the clients defence over nasty reviews.
5. What Went Wrong? Unleash Your Inner Scooby
Give them all their due and bring it back to your team to see if it was a mistake on your end, a systemic issue that needs addressing, a misunderstanding, or in some cases, it may not be your fault. As an example, there have been instances where we confused toppings and customers reached out & we have been more than happy to fix it. There have been other cases though where a customer has asked for specific toppings on their pizza and then complained that they don't like those toppings. In some cases you just have to accept that our pizza might just not be for them and you can't please everyone
If the situation involved other people, I will reach out to other team members for input on what happened and why. If I need to communicate with others, I will reply to the customer as soon as I can stating we're looking into the issue to avoid a big lag in communication, resulting in the customer becoming more frustrated.
6. Look at Other Ways to Improve Your Online Image
We're working with a great digital service that has come up with a clever way that gets ahead of the haters, with a post-service app that drives a 'how did we do' text to customers smart phones right after the service. Depending on their survey ratings, it pushes them to a private channel to communicate their disapproval so my customer gets the news instead of the digital public. If the reviews are good, they are pushed to any channel they choose for their positive feedback to be posted – which, let's face it, probably wouldn't have seen the light of day otherwise.
If you want to learn more about how you can adopt this service, we're vending it to our clients and are having great success.
7. Don't Throw in the Towel!
Don't let a bad review scare you from social media. If you handle it well, you have the opportunity to not only make an upset customer happy, but also show other potential customers that you really care
It's a wild world out there and things are changing all the time, but no matter the feedback, the best piece of advice I can give in parting is to keep doing your best and keep looking forward