It sucks when you get a negative customer review. Not only do they hurt personally – particularly because most of the time it wasn’t even under your control – but they hurt your business as well. They’re like glaring red Xs disfiguring your social media accounts. So what should you do about them? Should you just ignore them and hope that everybody else will too.
Well, let’s start right there. They won’t. Negative news is like cocaine. People are always going to be sniffing around for it. And as a bad review can destroy months of positive feedback, the well-structured feedback you can’t let that happen.
And so the best thing to do is to engage with it. But how?
The first thing to realize is that even if your customer is a ranting, raving lunatic who doesn’t even have two brain cells that they can crash into each other you have to stay positive. You’re not going to win any brownie points by pointing out that the person is a few fries short of a happy meal – no, not even if you’re McDonalds.
What’s more, when you’re interacting with negative feedback, you’re not just interacting with the person who is giving the feedback, you’re also dealing with the hundreds, perhaps thousands of people who are going to be reading the exchange. And they are what really matter because chances are that you’ve already lost the angry reviewer.
And they will be far more impressed with you if you can stay civil, upbeat and positive. In fact, if you manage to continue to offer solutions, ideas and ways that the problem could be fixed, even as they keep ranting and shouting, many people might reach the same conclusion you did – namely that they’re crazy and that you shouldn’t pay any attention to them.
For exactly the same reason you should also try to stay calm. Don’t get angry and don’t try to be clever in dealing with the reply unless you’re absolutely certain it won’t backfire. The last thing you want to do as a company is come off as angry, flippant or snarky. That will do far more damage to your reputation than whatever the person said!
So if you do get a negative review and you do feel yourself getting a little bit upset, then get away from the review. Go for a walk. Go vent to your colleagues. Go have a glass of water. But whatever you do, do not go about structuring a reply. Wait until cooler heads once again prevail.
Actually, take the time to make it clear you listened
People do not know how much time you spent thinking about a negative review. You might have spent days considering how you’d respond. The thing is, they can’t see that. All they can see is how you’ve responded.
So make it clear in that response that you hear what they’re saying and have investigated the issue to the best of your ability. Quite often, if people see that you’re trying to fix a problem that they feel you have (even if they just misunderstood, had unusually high expectations, or there was some third-party mistake) they will appreciate it. Often we just want to be heard.
And even if the criticizing party can’t bring themselves to forgive you, other readers – who haven’t yet used your service, will see your honest and genuine attempt to resolve the problem and improve your product and that will count for a lot.
Ignore everything before the ‘but’
In the response to a negative review, you can most certainly highlight how your company actually has a lot of experience or knows what they’re doing, or understands what is needed. Just remember the rule ‘ignore everything before the but’.
If you say ‘we’re really sorry that you had a bad time, but we’ve had 10,000 customers without complaints what people will read is ‘you shouldn’t complain because all those other people haven’t’. That might not be what you’re trying to say, but that is what they will read.
So what should you do instead? Apologize. Put in a full stop, perhaps even a paragraph break. And only then get into the actual explanation of why your product isn’t half as bad as it has been made out to be. So with the above text you could say:
We’re really sorry you had a bad experience and we’ll make absolutely certain it never happens again. We’re always striving to make certain that the next 10,000 customers that come through our doors will have even less to complain about! Thank you for your feedback.
Or something along those lines.
Complaints can be nasty, but they don’t have to sink your enterprise as long as you find some way to deal with them in a professional, upbeat and above all cool manner. That does not include shout, yell, throw a tantrum – or really throw anything much at all.
After all, though we as customers might be petty, small minded, cruel and have ridiculous expectations, we expect companies to be better than that.