Online reviews can make or break a business. More and more often, customers are turning to sites like Yelp, Google, and Facebook to get an unbiased view of every business they use.
Negative reviews are pretty much inevitable, regardless of how hard you try. Your responses, or lack thereof, can also have a dramatic effect on how people view your company’s credibility and dedication to customer service. Here are a few tips to handle negative online reviews like a pro.
First and foremost it is important to have a consistent approach to handling both positive and negative feedback.
Kelly owns a local hair salon and uses many types of online profiles to represent her business. Since public comments can’t be deleted, Kelly has developed a solid approach to protecting her business’ online reputation.
Set Up Alerts
The first line of defense for Kelly’s online business reputation is daily alerts. Setting up alerts through Google, Facebook, and Twitter lets Kelly know when someone has mentioned her business. She gets these alerts sent to her inbox daily.
Kelly’s policy is to comment on as many pieces of feedback as possible. She leverages the personal touch by interacting with her customers in a timely manner to all forms of feedback. She’s also turned her responses into an art form.
Kelly always responds to positive feedback. It doesn’t have to be the great American novel, but Kelly makes sure it’s genuine and has a personal feel to it. Observe the magic:
3/24/2015: Jen, this is one of the sweetest, most thorough reviews I have seen. Thank you so much for your kind words about the salon and our wonderful nail artist, Nickie!
Kelly always acknowledges the client’s concerns and states in the public reply that she will contact the person to follow up and resolve the issue. If she doesn’t have the client’s contact information, she invites the person who posted to contact her directly.
At this stage, Kelly understands the importance of not engaging in justification, excuse making, claims of innocence, or outright denial. Here is an example of what NOT to do…
I am really surprised by some of the comments in your review. You were 15 minutes late for the appointment. The stylist you were booked with had already packed up to leave and you were marked in our books as a no show (15 minutes late for a 45-minute appointment is pretty late). I tried to convince the stylist to stay and see you because it was Valentine’s Day and I didn’t want you to go away disappointed. She needed to get to her other job but agreed to do the blowout even if it meant being late for work. I asked you if you minded skipping the complimentary hand massage that we usually do with our blowouts since you were late and she needed to get to her second job. I’m sorry if that made your experience less pleasant. However, she did stay late and do an amazing blowout for you.
What a complete turnoff! If you want to try and win her back and impress others? Try this instead:
Thank you for taking the time to submit a review. We are sincerely sorry that your experience was less than satisfactory on this visit. We would be grateful for the opportunity to make this situation right for you. Please feel free to contact me at XXX-XXX-XXXX and I will assist in reconciling this issue. A private message has also been sent. Again, many thanks for the feedback – it only helps us serve you better!
The Clock is Ticking
Kelly promptly follows up on her commitment to reach out. The best person for this job is the business owner or general manager – someone with the clout and authority to fix the issue in one phone call or email. She and her manager put on their best customer service hats and really listen to the client’s concern.
Follow-Up on the Follow-Up
Once the issue is resolved, and only if it was a positive result, Kelly asks the client to follow up on the posting and comment that the issue was resolved. This can be the most impactful. Kelly always goes back to the original posting personally to briefly talk about how the resolution went down.
The key to success lies in being genuine, working proactively, and embracing the age-old philosophy, "The customer is always right!" even if you aren’t in agreement.