When it comes to upholding a brand reputation, there is one aspect that tips the scales: positive customer reviews. A few positive reviews can rapidly snowball into exceptional success, especially in the modern world where social media is focal to customer interactions.
As you may notice, 86% of consumers today frequently read customer reviews for a business (including 95% of millennials and generation Z; people aged 18-34). On average, 40% of consumers value reviews written in the past two weeks, and 91% of these consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. From the statistics, it’s clear customer reviews matter, and it’s essential to create and maintain a model that encourages your customers to leave feedback.
However, as good as it sounds, giving customers the freedom to leave their feedback can be a potential pitfall for your business. You must be prepared to deal with negative reviews or else your business will be on its knees in no time.
Let’s face it: obtaining five-star reviews from every customer is impossible. Seriously, even the most spectacular places such as the Grand Canyon get one-star reviews. However, these entities have maintained a perfect brand identity because they have mastered the art of dealing with negative reviews.
Here are some important tactics to help you deal with negative customer reviews:
Respond To Negative Comments Quickly
A customer doesn’t wake up and decide to leave a negative review on your website or social media platform. It takes a lot of time and effort to write a negative comment, and if a customer has gone all the way out, it means they are genuinely hurt or displeased.
Once you pinpoint a negative review, the priority should be reaching out to the customer. Do not let more than 24 hours pass before you contact the customer, otherwise the chance to control the situation will slip through your fingers.
The moment you dial the customer phone or open the email to send a message, empathy should kick in. It should be in your mind that you are dealing with an undoubtedly upset or inconvenienced person, and how you open the discussion matter a lot. Do not be tempted to immediately propose a solution; such an attempt will backfire and upset the customer even more.
Often, unhappy customers are highly emotional and will presume all your products or services to substandard. As a result, you need to get the customer back to a positive frame of mind before you can talk about the solutions you have. In the heat of the moment, all the customer care about is being understood and not getting a refund.
Put yourself in the customer’s situation, mine facts and try to understand how the whole situation came to be and how it made the customer feel. Also, let the customer know that you care. For example, at the very beginning of your discussion send the customer an empathetic email “Hi Jenny, thank you for taking your precious time to share your opinion. It must have been irritating for you to receive the wrong item after a one week wait.”
By taking time to listen to the customer, it makes them feel special and prevents the situation from escalating. It lays the foundation for a positive discussion and gives you the perfect opportunity to propose a befitting solution.
Resolve the situation
If everything goes to plan, by now, the unhappy customer should be calm and willing to listen to you. The fact that the customer is willing to lend you an ear doesn’t mean they are overly impressed. In fact, when a customer calms down and decides to listen to you, the whole situation is at a crossroad, and your margin for error is tiny.
If you make another mistake, you will ultimately lose the whole plot. On the other hand, if you deliver a satisfactory solution, you will quickly turn the unhappy customer into a loyal devotee. So how do you resolve the situation?
Virtually, all customer-related complaints revolve around one theme; something was to happen, but it didn’t. These problems are not equal – some are easy to solve while others are intricate and require a well-thought plan to crack. The solution you give depends on the issue at hand. However, your goal should be to involve the customer and try to solve the problem more collaboratively.
For example, in case of a delayed order, track the product. If the package is marked as delivered, ask the customer to confirm their address. Maybe the customer didn’t update his/her address after moving. If that is the cause of the delayed order, you are off the hook. Inform the customer and request him/her to update their address. Still, you need to deliver the package as quickly as possible to the updated address.
In case of a defective or unsatisfactory product, apologize and request the customer to suggest what they think is the best solution. If a customer asks you to send a new product, understand the customer’s preferences and recommend a product that is best suited to the needs. It is wise even to let the customer know about the product you are about to send. If they like it, send the product and ensure it is delivered as quickly as possible.
On the other hand, if a customer asks for a refund, keep calm, shoulder the blame and make a full refund. Do not insult the customer or start arguments even if you think your product is incredible. It’s normal for some customers to make a stink about a product, even when it’s highly-rated by the majority of users.
Overall, whatever the problem is, take responsibility and work collaboratively with the customer to provide an excellent solution. This way, the customer will regain trust in your brand and will even recommend your business to friends and family.
Make a Follow-up
After the problem is solved, give the customer some time, say, a week. If no further complaint is launched, reach back out to the customer and ask if the solution worked. Here, you must practice caution and intelligence, because, if the customer was not delighted by the solution, you will be playing with a ticking time bomb.
However, in spite of the high risk involved, do not be afraid to contact the customer for feedback. This is the most critical step when handling negative customer reviews. It’s your only chance to get the negative review removed and turn the customer into a loyal devotee.
Ask the customer if the solution worked out well. Try to establish if the customer has any doubts about the new product/service and if there is anything you can do to help. In most cases, if an issue was resolved satisfactorily, a disgruntled customer is easily transformed into a happy one.
When the customer is satisfied with your stellar customer service, it becomes easy to convenience them to remove the negative review or edit it. The best-case scenario is when a customer agrees to edit a review from a negative comment to a glowing testimony of your brand’s exceptional service. However, this is not always possible, and in most cases, the customer will only remove the negative review.
Whether the negative review is removed or edited, it’s a positive result for your brand. It’s a good sign that your business has remarkable customer service prowess. It also means the once unhappy customers are satisfied with your products and are more likely to recommend your business to friends and family.
Plan For Future
Of course, no one wants to see negative reviews, but in today’s e-commerce sector, it not feasible to avoid one-star ratings. You should view each negative comment as a piece of advice or constructive criticism. Disgruntled customers are an invaluable resource of authentic information about your product and services.
Use the information unearthed from every customer complain to improve your products and services. Recurring customer complaints can help you pinpoint the aspects that you need to change to eliminate potential negative publicity.
Remember the old saying, “where there is smoke; there is fire.” The adage applies to your business, and the goal should not be to build a channel for the smoke to escape. Strive to put out the fire, that is, take the bull by its horns, and nip all customer pain points in the bud. This means, investigating the root cause of every complaint, and devising a remedy for each problem.
For example, if one customer complains about a delayed order, create a survey to establish if there are others who have experienced the same problem, but didn’t launch complaints. If the number is alarming, check what needs to be changed. Is the problem more systematic? Are you at fault? Is your delivery partner reliable enough?
Handling negative comments and keeping all e-commerce customers happy is easier said than done. However, when done right, it can drive effective change and spur your business to great heights. Even as you strive to implement a system that will help you deal with negative reviews, it is wise to motivate the satisfied customer to share their thoughts.
Getting many positive reviews can dilute the impact of the few negative complaints and strengthen the online reputation of your business. Use these tactics to get more positive reviews:
- Provide stellar customer service
- Offer great products
- Create and foster an active online community
- Ask the customer to leave their feedback.