Friends and family can chat despite being thousands of miles away…
…animal lovers can buy the best pet food without having to get off the couch, and budding entrepreneurs can start a small business with nothing more than a laptop and a dream.
Unfortunately, there are some negative ways the internet has impacted people as well, and for business owners, a primary example is negative online feedback.
Social Media Monsters
Many businesses have created social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other networks in an effort to connect with customers and build brand awareness.
When something goes wrong, these accounts are often the first place disgruntled customers visit to vent about their issues. It can be upsetting and stressful when this happens, but the most important thing to remember is not to take the comments personally.
Though your knee-jerk reaction to negative comments may be to argue with the customer, or just delete the comment and block the customer, these aren’t productive ways to deal with the problem.
Instead take a breath, remind yourself it isn’t about you, and remember that most likely, the person with the issue isn’t a horrible human being.
You and your team members need to know how to respond in the right way so as to run damage control, and to prevent further negative reactions from other customers. Here are the best ways to handle negative feedback about your business online:
1. If the Comment Is Not on a Review Site, Move the Conversation to a Private Forum
Comments are visible to everyone on a social network, and that’s why it’s more important than ever to stay professional. Unless the negative feedback is a permanent part of a review site, try to contact the individual privately to work out the problem.
Then delete the comment, but be sure to add a post explaining that you’re happy to address any customer service questions on another platform.
If the complaint you’re dealing with is confusing, ask politely for clarification and go from there.
The fact is, 70 percent of people that complain online are hoping for a response from the company…
…though only 38 percent actually get one.
Be proactive and your business will stand out from the crowd in a positive way.
2. Admit Your Mistakes
Did you or someone on your team make a mistake that led to this customer’s dissatisfaction? Own up to it and apologize! There’s no shame in admitting something went wrong on your end. Admitting it will help customers trust you and your company in the future.
3. Offer a Solution
Can you figure out what the problem is, and what went wrong with a purchase or customer relationship? Great! Now fix it. If there is a simple solution, go for that and try to add some extra value to the transaction.
For example, if the customer ordered one product and received another (or nothing)…
…then make sure he or she gets that product as soon as possible, plus free delivery or a bonus product.
Ninety percent of consumers say that positive online reviews have influenced their buying decisions. Eighty-six percent said their buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews. So you see how important it is to nip complaints in the bud and learn from them.
When you make the effort to solve the customer’s problem, you’re representing your company in the best way possible. Remember, pay attention to how the problem was caused in the first place and try to avoid it happening again.
4. Respond Quickly
All complaints are time-sensitive. If left unanswered, customers may become even more upset and volatile. Respond empathetically and be understanding to the customer’s needs, no matter what the issue.
5. Start a Public Dialogue
Public review sites like TripAdvisor make it nearly impossible for a business to remove negative feedback. You need to address negative reviews in full view of the public, since that is the best way for other potential customers to see how you handle problems.
Though you should ideally contact the reviewer privately to totally resolve the issue, be sure to leave one or two comments on the initial poor review for others to read. These should say something like this:
Dear sir, we’re sorry to hear about your bad experience with our company. I will contact you personally and have a replacement product shipped immediately to replace the faulty one.
Great Customer Service Always Impresses
Don’t take negative social media posts about your company personally. Instead, use them as a way to understand your customers’ issues, and assess what is lacking in your business.
Learn from these issues and make your business stronger than before. Customers and potential clients will see that you’ve made the effort to fix your issues, and they’ll trust you more because of it.