When making a purchase, every customer has expectations based on their perception or need. Regardless of how good your product or service is, you won’t please everyone. That’s why it is good to narrow your niche and be as specific as possible with your descriptions. For instance, if a regular Memory Foam pillow is described as promising a good night’s sleep, it may be ideal for people with neck or back pain but not for someone suffering from acid reflux. They need a Memory Foam wedge pillow that elevates their head 4 to 6 inches. If the customer doesn’t know which pillow to order, they may blame the pillow when it's their fault for ordering the wrong one. The quality is excellent, but that doesn’t matter much when a customer is dissatisfied. Perhaps the description could have been more detailed.
As an entrepreneur or business owner, you have to accept that negative reviews are going to come, so don’t take it personal. Whether you check reviews or not, your customers will definitely go through them before making a purchase. A survey by YouGov.com states that a whopping 79% of online shoppers in the United States check online reviews before completing a purchase or visiting a business.
Since these negative reviews can plant doubts in the minds of shoppers, dealing with them carefully is essential to the success of your business. So, if someone trashes the quality of your product or service online, how should you respond? Respond subtly, sincerely and personally.
6 Things to Consider When Responding to Negative Reviews
- Don’t get aggressive. When you try to run your business in the best way possible, negative feedback may feel like a dagger to the heart. Take a deep breath and reply politely. Accept that there may be some communication gaps or a small misunderstanding. Don’t get aggressive, it may spiral into an ugly exchange that could turn off more customers. You don’t want to be known as the thin-skinned entrepreneur or business owner who couldn’t handle a negative review.
The best response is to acknowledge shortcomings and apologize. Offering them a replacement, refund or discount on a future purchase may be an even better response. You will win the heart of your reviewer and possibly gain future customers.
- Never Ignore. Ignoring a negative review is as bad as replying in a fit of anger. It affects new customer acquisition, your retention rate or both. Since you are not addressing the review, the reviewer will feel completely justified that his concern or anger is right. Being unresponsive to negative reviews will also make potential and even regular customers insecure by giving them a feeling that you could care less about them. If there is doubt about your after-sales support, you make it easy for them to choose a competitor.
Even if you somehow manage to remove the negative review from your website, the reviewer, who may still be outraged, might take this feedback to social media which could turn out to be an absolute disaster for your brand image.
- Respond Quickly. Keep in mind that you are conducting business in an increasingly competitive online marketplace with each business vying for sales conversions. The strength of the relationship between a customer and a brand is built on the customer experience. Beginning with several small interactions like repeated advertisements or referrals from a satisfied customer and ending with the after purchase customer service interaction, the customer evaluates each step of their customer journey. They expect a swift response to a negative review. A prompt response may avoid potential escalations, save your business from further embarrassment and strengthen the bond between your brand and the customer. By all means, do not contradict them! You don’t want to make the situation worse by upsetting the dissatisfied customer more. Give them a refund if possible or maybe a discount because you are a brand that prioritizes your customer’s experience.
- Avoid a Canned Response. Don’t just copy and paste the same response for all negative reviews. Each person reacts differently, but everyone needs to feel their concerns are being addressed seriously. Take into consideration the age of the reviewer or any other information you have about them (even their picture) and personalize your response accordingly. Sounding sincere puts you in a better position to resolve the issue because they feel you are genuinely trying to help.
- Take the conversation offline. Once the reviewer is convinced that you are addressing the problem and it will be resolved soon, try to quickly move the conversation offline, out of the public eye, to email, text or DM. Once resolved, post a reply to the review asking for feedback on the agreement reached. A positive response establishes you as a brand that values customer satisfaction.
- Encourage your customers to write reviews. Reviews are essential to your image online. They play a vital role in defining a brand’s personality for new customers and those being converted into buyers. You should always encourage your customers to write reviews. If you are already struggling with negative reviews, it becomes a must to have as many positive reviews as possible. The more positive reviews you have, the impact of negative reviews lessen. A week after purchase, send an e-mail asking customers to share their experience with the product or service. If they don’t, follow up in a few weeks with a 10% discount coupon they can use with their next purchase in exchange for a review. Just make sure it’s not assumed that you’re asking for only positive reviews.
Most dissatisfied customers could be considered a godsend opportunity. If you win them over, you stand in a strong position to retain them and convert them into brand ambassadors. There is no better publicity than word-of-mouth and no stronger nudge for choosing a brand, than a referral, so handle negative reviews with care.