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I came across this crazy article about an online business owner who traveled over 500 miles to beat up a customer who left him a bad review. Thankfully this not a typical response that most business owners have to a bad review but it did inspire me to write this article tackling how you should handle bad reviews.
Bad reviews are a part of running a business. They happen to the best of us. Research shows that people are more likely to share their bad experience compared to a good experience. But don't let that get you down, bad reviews can help you grow as a company.
Couple of tips I list below talk about handling the situation before it turns into bad reviews. I also talk about what to do if you do get bad reviews.
Have a clear internal policy
If your business is made up of more than one person, you need to make sure that everyone is on the same page on how to handle customer complaints.
When there is no process set up, it can lead to inconsistency in customer service, leading to negative reviews. Lay out a basic guideline for your customer service employees that tells them what to do when they come across a complaint. Give them enough power that they are able to address the basic problems on their own.
Setting up this process will help you handle customer issues more efficiently, so that you can intercept problems before they turn into bad reviews.
Claim your online presence
Your company should be on all the major social networks and any industry related social networks as well. Customers could be leaving reviews at a number of places. You want to be able to catch the reviews as fast as possible so that you can resolve the issue.
You also want to engage with your customers on a regular basis. This will help you build a relationship with them and nip bad reviews in the bud.
Software such as Sprout Social, Buffer Reply and Hootsuite let you communicate with customers on various social networks from a single platform. This makes the job of being everywhere a bit more easier.
Get in touch with customer ASAP
People are used to having things done quickly so it's important that you address the situation as quickly as you can. It reduces the length of inconvenience caused and shows them that your company is there to make things right.
Plus the longer it stays unresolved, the more people see it and pass judgement on your business.
I understand that reading not so good things about your business can be tough. Try not to let emotions control the situation. You want to handle this with a cool mind. Apologize if need be, and don't get dragged down into an argument. Other people are watching and this is your time to show them how well you handle the situation.
You could be dealing with a irate customer who is venting their anger and frustration. It is important that you calm the situation down by directly addressing the problem and not engage in insults. It won't look good on your company in the long term if you do.
Don't make the customer run around
This happened to me. I contacted a company about a problem I was having and I guess I contacted the wrong department. I received an email telling me so with the correct email address in the email. I had used a contact form before so did not have the details of the issue sitting in my mailbox. This meant I have to rewrite and re-explain the problem to a new email address. I still haven't bothered reaching out again. I just don't have to the time.
Better thing to do would be to forward the customer's email to the correct department for them, let them know you did so and give them the details they need to stay in touch with the correct department. From there your customer service department should take over and reach out the customer to help them resolve the problem.
Take over the situation and take care of the customer and make the resolution pain free as possible.
Respond publicly to the review
Since the review is public, it is important that you reply publicly as well so that others reading it can see it.
Handle the problem through private messaging or phone since it may contain private information of the customer but do reply publicly. Other people who could be potential customers are reading and you want them to see that you are someone who takes care of their customers.
Use concerns and complaints to review your product/service
Remember when I said that bad reviews aren't necessarily bad for business. These reviews can give you insight into problems you may not have noticed otherwise. Read what is being said and see if they can help you improve your product or the service you offer.
Ask to have malicious reviews removed
Investigate to find out if the review is genuine. You should have a paper trail of the customer's interaction with your company. If it's just someone trying to scam you or ruin your reputation, you can contact the platform and ask to to have the review removed.
They may not necessarily comply. It all depends on the situation, but it doesn't hurt to try. Make a judgement whether there is even a point in engaging with a possible troll. You can make a single professional comment or just let things be.
Ask for reviews
As I mentioned earlier, people are more likely to share their bad experience and sometimes you may not be able to change the customer's mind. If you are providing a great service, great product and great customer service, you can offset the odd bad review by asking all the other customers for a review. Chances are if your company is has all the previous listed qualities, then your customer is more than likely to leave you a good review. Just ask for it.
Remember, it is against the FTC rules to incentivize reviews. You shouldn't be offering anything in exchange for good reviews. Just let the customer know "if you were happy with the service, please leave us a review, Thank You".
Make it easy for them to leave you a review. Gather.up, Grade.us and Review Trackers is just some of software that allows you to make it easier to gather reviews from your customers through communication such as email and messages. You can even use these software to manage other aspects of customer service. If you have a physical address, you can use this free google review link generator to create a link that you insert into your emails or messages to the customer. When they click on it, it will take them to your Google review page, where they can leave a review.
In all, be courteous, be prompt, help resolve the problem quickly and ask for reviews. This should keep the bad reviews at bay help you grow into a well liked company.