If you’re willing to accept the benefits of social media and positive online reviews, you should also be prepared to respond productively to negative feedback. When you do it well, you can often turn those negatives into positives. Here are a few tips.
1) Take the high road. Your complaining customer may be as wrong as he can be, but resist any urge to snap back with blame or revenge on your mind. If you’re hot, give yourself some time to cool down before you reply or assign that task to a team member who’s not emotionally involved.
2) Customize your reply. Generic, pre-written or templated responses feel like lip service, so they can further anger those customers who have legitimate complaints. Other customers also see your public replies. When they realize you don’t respond personally and thoughtfully to concerns, they, too, could lose affection for - and loyalty toward - your brand.
3) Make it easy to connect. Offering a toll-free number or blind email address can feel cold and impersonal to customers. Instead, provide the name, title and direct phone number of a team member who can address the reviewer’s specific concern. Just make sure that employee is skilled in customer service and authorized to “make it right.”
4) Reach out proactively. When a reviewer doesn’t respond to your invitation to connect, check your database or CRM to see if the complainant is actually a customer. Then, call that person to confirm the problem and attempt a resolution. Imagine how impressive that effort could feel to an angry customer!
5) Express your thanks. Even if the feedback is negative, offer sincere thanks for the customer’s time and input. If you look at them as opportunities, negative reviews can be a blessing, especially when they help you identify patterns of poor service or other weaknesses. Your appreciative replies may also ease any negative feelings reviewers have. The effort can humanize your brand and encourage people to buy from you again.
6) Ask for an update. Once you’re sure the issue has been resolved to your customer’s satisfaction, ask her to remove the negative review or add follow-up comments to explain how well you handled the situation. No one expects perfection from your company, but when you prioritize addressing customer service issues promptly, politely and completely, you deserve to be recognized.
This post was inspired by the work of MadAveGroup Creative Consultant Cassandra Evans.