Consumers may seem to complain more than ever but it’s just that they can.
They can complain by telephone, email, social media, review sites and many other ways. Wherever you look people are expressing their views about customer service.
Customer service needs to be reinvented for a world where consumers are demanding
more, where comparisons happen in real time, where loyalty is fleeting and there’s diminishing
friction in changing brands. Customer service is where social starts. (Adam Hanfit)
Consumers may seem to complain more than ever but it’s just that they can. They can complain by telephone, email, social media, review sites and many other ways. Wherever you look people are expressing their views about customer service.
I’ve found some great tips for you to handle these comments and guess what? I didn’t find them on a huge retailers site or a major online business-I found them on a Heating and Plumbing website because they know in their industry their consumers are already starting to use online reviews :
Top tips for handling negative online reviews
In an increasingly online, social, and mobile world, customer reviews play an important role in influencing consumer behaviour, with many using these to guide their purchasing decisions – whether it’s going for an early morning coffee or choosing a local plumber.
Many small local business owners rely heavily on their web presence to communicate with customers and attract new business.
Where once, any fallout from a dissatisfied customer was limited to their friends and family, the popularity of social media has magnified the impact disgruntled customers can have on a business’ reputation. Unhappy customers can sound off instantly to a wide audience before they’ve considered taking their complaint up with the company direct.
Regardless of how great the product or customer service, business owners should accept that negative reviews are part of running a business, and have a strategy in place to manage these effectively. Here are a few top tips to tackle bad online customer reviews – nipping them in the bud as soon as they strike.
Acknowledge and respond straight away It’s vital to respond to a customer complaint as quickly and thoughtfully as possible. That way you’ll minimise any potential damage and show customers that you care and take their loyalty very seriously. Your customers are always connected, so the longer it takes to respond to a negative or false representation of your business, the more time it has to spread. Time is of the essence and a day is a long time in the world of social media.
Be professional and demonstrate strong empathy Always respond to the bad review in a respectful and sincere way that communicates you empathise with the customer and understand why they are unhappy. If you’ve had a bad day, admit it, apologise for the customer’s negative experience, and invite them to return so you can make it up to them in some way. Even if you don’t agree with what’s being claimed, be positive and avoid getting into an argument. If you feel the review is wrong then say why but in a professional and reasoned manner. The key here is to create a meaningful, personal dialogue, and to do this publicly to show other prospective customers that you’re listening and addressing the matter accordingly.
Take the conversation off-line While it’s important to post a short, immediate public response to a bad review – showing other customers that you’re addressing and resolving the situation – further detailed communication with the dissatisfied customer should be taken off-line as soon as possible to avoid potential further public criticism. Communicating via email or phone helps to make things feel more personal, speeds up the resolution process and protects a customer’s privacy. This approach can also help take the heat out of the situation and calm things down more quickly.
Turn negative feedback into an opportunity Reviews can provide key insights into the health of your business and are a great indicator of how customers feel they are being treated. Business owners should be taking full advantage of this feedback – encouraging all customers to provide it. Bad reviews should be regarded by business owners as a useful early-warning mechanism for spotting problems and addressing these before they escalate. A company’s response to negative reviews provides a perfect opportunity to show customers that management is responsive to any concerns or dissatisfaction they may have.
Because of the weight they carry, online reviews are one of the most effective word-of-mouth marketing and reputation-building tools for small business. Negative customer reviews have the potential to cause short-term harm if not handled correctly. Following these few simple guidelines will go a long way to avoiding potential long-term damage to business reputation. Better still, these negative reviews can help businesses to better understand their customer’s issues and improve products and services offered.
I think this advice is great-it may seem basic but so often have I seen businesses retaliate or complain about the customers who leave bad reviews for them. Personally it really turns me against them.
I recently bought a photo canvasss from Wowcher but didn’t complete my order with the affiliated company properly so I sent an email asking for help. Within 72 hours I had a reply and they offered to help me. I have to say I was all geared up for a fight because I didn’t think they would assist. I was so happy I sent an almost overwhelming email of gratitude because they exceeded my expectations.
My advice to you today is embrace reviews as they can work in your favour.
A reply to a review/complaint shows:
- You care about your customers
- You want to improve your service
- You are approachable
- You are contactable
Make sure you put aside time to ensure your customers are happy:
“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.”