Taking the time to manage your reputation online seems like a no-brainer. Online reviews can be found all over search engines, third party review sites, forums as well as social networks. You should be encouraging your customers to leave reviews, but what happens when you receive a bad review?
The 2011 Online Influence Trend Tracker by Cone Inc., a Boston-based PR and brand-building agency, showed that four out of five consumers have changed their mind about a recommended product, based entirely on negative information they found online. So if your business is criticized, be sure to know how to respond.
Have a Response Plan and Stick to it
Negative reviews will happen so be prepared with a plan on how you will respond. Be mindful that your response will be broadcasted to everyone that visits that review page or forum, so write with your potential customers in mind.
Communicate to the person, as well as your entire customer base, that you understand the issue and that you are sorry that there was a problem. Keep your comments short here and don’t try to give your side of the story. Writing a book on why a customer is wrong is a sure way to not have your comment read.
In addition, don’t jump on the defensive or take any negative comments to heart. This will only cloud your judgment and can cause you to look bad in front of other customers. Before posting a reply to any comment, take your time and read the comment as a customer would, and remove anything that sounds defensive.
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Once you apologize for any inconveniences, show your other customers that something has changed to make the product or service better, whether that is hiring a new quality control manager or upgrading materials. Customers want the peace of mind to know that the business is changing for the better.
Your Response can Build Customer Loyalty: When to Respond
Responding to a customer’s situation shows other customers that you are constantly looking to improve. Situations that should be responded to include:
When You can Salvage the Customer
If you can convince the customer that this is a one and a million occurrence and will not happen again, then it is definitely worth leaving a response. Rectifying the situation with this person can lead to be a rewarding experience, since, they will most likely remove the negative review or possibly write a positive review after you give them a little push in that direction.
When A Customer Falsifies Facts
When a customer blatantly leaves a bad review and misstates information, you need to step in and correct them. Your comment should not talk down to the customer, but politely correct them. For instance, if you are in the IT industry and a reviewer says your company was the worse plumbing company around, you need to correct them to remove any confusion from other viewers.
When Your Company Really did Mess Up
If someone leaves a legitimate complaint, then you need to comment and do what you can to come to a resolution. An apology is always nice, but it doesn’t always rectify the situation. Sometimes you have to take complete responsibility and provide the customer with an incentive to give you a second chance.
You Don’t Have to Respond to Every Negative Comment
As much as you hear how you must respond to every single comment, this isn’t necessary. This may seem like a catch-22, especially with social media sites, but there is a time to respond and there is time to let it go.
Avoid leaving a comment when the post will surely do more harm than good. For example, if your response will do nothing but anger the customer into becoming even more vocal, then it’s not a good idea. Some customers are simply mad at the world and there’s nothing you can do to appease them.
In addition, if you have nothing constructive to say, whether that is out of anger, or you are simply stumped, then you should wait to respond or allow another member of your company leave the response.
Knowing that not every review merits a response may be true; however, constantly ignoring your customer’s negative comments will do nothing but make your company look bad in the eyes of other potential clients. Responding to customer reviews can be a tricky process, but should also be an important part of your reputation management strategy. Set a plan and be proactive with customer reviews to ensure your business always looks good in the eyes of its potential clients.