So, you got a negative review…

No matter how good your product, no matter how good your service, no matter how good your customer service, the only way to avoid the eventual negative review is to not have a business at all.

A customer can become dissatisfied enough to leave a review for several reasons:

  • The customer truly receives bad service. If they were ignored, if an employee was rude, if they purchased a defective or incorrectly-described product—these are all legitimate reasons to be unhappy with a business. This is why it’s important to ensure your employees are properly trained in dealing with both regular day-to-day customer interactions and in handling a dissatisfied customer.

  • Second, and arguably more serious, the customer doesn’t feel their problem was handled efficiently enough or with enough care by the business. In many circumstances, a negative review could be prevented with, say it with me, good customer service. While the situation that’s made the customer unhappy still exists, an employee with good customer service skills is often able to calm the customer and resolve the situation in a satisfactory manner.

    ** It’s also worth noting that many negative reviews are made by customers whose complaint never reaches the ears of an employee, making it ever more important that all employees are well-trained in order to prevent as many unhappy customers as possible.

  • The customer is having a bad day. Note that this doesn’t mean their complaint is unwarranted—it just means to take anything said with a grain of salt, because you never know what the customer’s day, week, year, or life has been like.

That’s all well and good, but I’ve gotten a negative review and I need to do something about it

Okay, I hear you. First, take a deep breath. It’s always concerning to receive a negative review, particularly if you’re in the early years of business, when every review feels like a personal attack. But, remember—it’s not a personal attack. It’s a single customer who had an experience they didn’t enjoy or expect, and they don’t feel satisfied with how your office handled it. It’s an opportunity for growth—and the more you are able to treat it that way, the fewer negative reviews you’ll receive.

So, what to do? Simple enough—just follow these steps:

  1. Acknowledge the problem: Don’t just let the review sit there. Sometimes, let’s face it, the food really was overcooked. Sometimes, an employee really did order the wrong part, resulting in more hassle for the customer. Sometimes, an employee was rude, performed the wrong service, was late, or any number of complaints that a negative review may indicate. It happens. The most important part of an apology (which comes next) is acknowledging what was done wrong and committing to fixing it.

  2. Apologize: And I don’t mean “We’re sorry you’re frustrated,” but “We’re very sorry we messed up. We are committed to resolving this situation.” A real apology is rare these days, and often that’s all a customer really needs—to hear that their problem is a real concern for you and that you are willing to make the effort to fix it.

  3. Fix it: This doesn’t always mean offering a free dessert, half off an oil change, or whatever else—it means evaluating what caused the problem in the first place and doing everything you can to ensure the problem doesn’t happen again.

Bonus Tips

  1. Recognize that your audience for a response to a negative review isn’t just the unhappy customer—it’s every customer you might potentially serve in the future. By responding honestly, sincerely, and with an obvious intent to repair the customer relationship, your future customers can see that you’re a business worth dealing with—and that, if they’re ever unhappy, you’re committed to keeping their business.

  1. Contrary to popular belief, remember the customer isn’t always right: While it’s important to keep calm, especially when responding to negative reviews, it’s also okay to point out when a negative review doesn’t accurately represent the circumstances. However, keep calm and don’t get personal—you’re not responding to the review to attack the customer; you’re responding to share your concern for maintaining the customer relationship.

Want to read more about responding to negative reviews? Review Tracker has another great article on the topic.

And, as always, if you need help, give CloudZen Designs a call.


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