One of the most disheartening parts of being a business owner is the negative customer service review. It happens to the best of us. You might get 100 blissfully happy customers raving about their great experience but it only takes one negative one to ruin your day. Just because a few customer’s have a bad experience with your company, does not mean your business is doomed. But you do have to know how to diplomatically and appropriately respond. In fact, bad reviews are actually an excellent opportunity to improve your services. The information customers put into their reviews often contain lots of incredibly useful information. But your response can make or break the customer relationship. Here’s our top 10 tricks for handling those bad Yelp reviews.
1. Listen. No Really, Listen
The biggest mistake businesses often make is to focus on just getting the review taken down. We get it. You don’t want other customer’s to see that someone had a bad experience for fear that it will deter them from contacting you. But this is a short sighted approach. If one person was dissatisfied with something chances are pretty good another customer will be unhappy with the same thing. So take the time to really listen to your customer and figure out why they had a bad experience. It can also be an opportunity to save the relationship if that unhappy customer feels heard and valued.
2. Respond With Positivity
The best way to change the direction of the conversation is to respond positively. You want to avoid escalating the situation by arguing with the customer. Customer’s often don’t know the ins and outs what makes a business tick. Their complaint could be wildly misinformed. Instead of going on a long rant about why the customer is wrong, it’s much more productive to respond with something like, “We sincerely apologize that you had a bad experience. We’re committed to our customers’ satisfaction and will work quickly to correct the problem. Thank you so much for your honest feedback!”
3. Take The Conversation Offline
Depending on the nature of the complaint, it’s sometimes necessary and helpful to move the conversation off Yelp or Google. If the problem is easily solvable or just a misunderstanding, provide the customer with your phone number and advise them to call you at their earliest convenience. Doing this also sends the message to the customer that you’re serious about making sure they have a good experience and aren’t just offering them an empty apology.
4. Thank the Customer For Their Feedback
Reassuring your customers that you’re thankful for and welcome their feedback does a couple of things. First, it humanizes your brand. Customers will be much more likely to come back if they feel like they’re interacting with a real person and not just a corporate robot. Secondly, it can lead to a loyal base of returning customers. Think about it: if you’ve had a negative experience at a restaurant or businesses, you would be more likely to go back if you felt they actually CARED about your experience.
5. Stay Calm and Business On
Don’t lose your cool! Try to remain calm and look at the review as an opportunity to improve your business practices. Did the review mention specifics about what the person didn’t like? Bad reviews often contain a wealth of valuable information about how your business is performing, for better or worse. So it’s in your best interest to listen and give the people what they want!
6. Know When to Engage the Conversation
This one requires a bit more nuance. Sometimes reviews can be ranty and completely incoherent. It takes a bit of finesse to know when to engage and when not to. Sometimes it truly is best practice not to respond. If the conversation is not productive, politely invite them to call your customer care line in an attempt to de escalate the situation and give the person another avenue to voice their concerns.
“YOUR CUSTOMER DOESN’T CARE HOW MUCH YOU KNOW UNTIL THEY KNOW HOW MUCH YOU CARE.” ~ DAMON RICHARDS
7. Avoid Making It Personal
Being a business owner aint no easy gig. You’ve poured your blood, sweat, and tears into building your company from the ground up. It IS personal to you, that makes sense. But cultivating an ability to see Yelp or Google reviews as objective, honest feedback is an incredibly valuable skill in business. The person who left you that nasty comment doesn’t know who YOU are as a person, they’re upset because their experience ruined their day.
8. Follow Up
If you promised the customer a replacement product, a free service, or simply to fix the problem, it is crucial that you follow up with them. This reinforces to the client that you care about their experience. What if the problem wasn’t fixed or was made worse? That review is only going to turn into two bad reviews. Be sure to give the customer a call to make sure they’re completely satisfied.
9. Make Realistic Promises
One of the worst things you can do in customer service is to set unreasonably high expectations that you cannot possibly meet. If you own a hair salon, you wouldn’t want to offer a customer a year of free hair cuts to take down their negative review. The word will get out and you will have tons of people posting negative reviews hoping for a year of free hair cuts. See what I mean? Offer just one free service to that customer to fix what ever it was they didn’t like. Be sure what you’re offering in terms of dollar value matches the scale of the problem.
10. Be Genuine
People can tell when you’re not being authentic. If a customer writes you a crazy long review detailing all the ways you ruined their day, it would not be appropriate to simply say, “thanks for your feedback!” Additionally, if you have a cookie cutter response that you copy and paste as a reply to every review, people will feel insulted and even less likely to give your company another shot. So take the time to really listen to complaints and respond thoughtfully. Sincerity goes a long way in business!
And there ya have it! Keep these 10 tricks in mind next time a customer leaves you a Google review filled with Emojis and expletives.