Stefni Oliver, Daisy Retail's Operations Director, shares her top tips on dealing with negative online feedback.
In a society where Google is often the first port of call when researching an unknown business, negative online reviews can be extremely damaging to an organisation’s reputation and commercial value. In fact, research has revealed handling unfavourable online content has become the number one focus for the majority of UK businesses with an online presence.
What someone sees after typing your business into a search engine can literally be the difference between a sale and a lost customer. And to make things harder, the advent of social media has enabled customers to openly criticise your service on a very public platform.
But bad reviews don’t have to signal disaster. Handled correctly, their impact can be limited, and in some cases, can actually be turned into a positive. Here are my top tips on how to handle negative feedback from customers.
One common mistake businesses make when they receive a negative review is to ignore it in the hope it will disappear – unfortunately it won’t. What you should do is respond to the customer as quickly as you can and politely let them know you are trying to resolve their complaint.
If you can’t come back with a specific response, simply reply letting them know you are looking into the issue, and if necessary, ask the customer for their account information to help speed up the resolution time. Social media means you have to engage with your customer immediately, so don’t continue tweeting if you haven’t replied to a customer – no one likes to be ignored!
If you have received a negative review, chances are there will be other customers eagerly watching to see how you handle the query. The key to handling the feedback is to show that you care and are willing to make it up to the customer.
Retail is a good example of an industry where there is a constant flow of criticism; lost or wrong products being the most popular nature of complaints. In order to handle the problems, the best retailers acknowledge their mistake and offer a discount or incentive by way of apology. Doing this in a public forum shows that you are willing to go out of your way to make it better.
It is no secret that every customer wants to feel valued. And the best way to deal with someone who is dissatisfied is to treat them as you would expect to be treated. It is vitally important to inject some personality into your replies and form a human connection with the customer. This will help show them that someone actually cares about their complaint and will reassure them that they’re not just talking to a robot.
However, make sure your customer service responses remain on brand. If you’re a firm that operates in a very formal industry or deals with sensitive issues – don’t be using smilies! On the other hand, if you’re a fun and creative firm, respond in an upbeat manner that reflects your business.
In order to mitigate negative reviews in the future: why not try and solve the problems before they reappear? If you improve processes once you’ve been made aware of them, in theory you should never have to deal with a similar complaint again. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done!
Five key points to remember:
1. Always respond immediately
2. Admit when you are wrong
3. Always tell the truth and provide customers with regular updates
4. Be personal and show your customer that they are important to you
5. Try your best to put it right