When trying to steer your startup towards sustained success, you naturally have an interest in attracting as much positive publicity for that business as possible. For that reason, your heart could sink when you notice that your business has led a customer to publish a negative review online.
It’s especially disheartening considering that, as Forbes points out, 84% of consumers trust online reviews to the same degree as personal recommendations. Still, you’ve got to tread meticulously in how you react to the review, or else you could leave even more damage than the review alone did.
Respond to the negative review quickly
You should be in the habit of routinely looking for reviews before they are posted – whether on Google, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter or even part of your startup’s own site, like a forum. That way, if a negative review does land, you can reply to it quickly.
That’s crucial in light of a recommendation from Business 2 Community that you respond to such a review within 24 to 48 hours of its publication. Leaving it longer can risk that person feeling invalidated, not to mention risk repelling other people who see that review left unaddressed.
Show the customer that you care
There’s a lot you have to do here, and especially important is staying polite in your response. As you address the complainant’s core concern, rephrase it in your answer while using the person’s name. Naturally, an authentic apology would be in order, too.
This bears emphasis even if you honestly think that the complaining party is, well… completely wrong. Ultimately, you want to come across as a concerned human, rather than a text-churning robot, in your response – and remember to propose a specific solution for the issue at hand.
Offer to assist the customer offline
In your initial response, include an email address or phone number with which the person can privately get in touch with you to have the issue resolved. Once you have the means of contacting the person yourself by email or phone, do so.
Whether you phone them, email them or even mail them a card, you can make a positive impression on the disgruntled customer; after all, contacting a customer like this would not be a usual step! You could even tempt them to edit the review and become a repeat customer of your business.
Learn from the criticisms
Ultimately, complaining customers are pointing out faults in your current service – and that’s something for you to appreciate. In rectifying those faults, you could prevent them from snowballing into an even bigger problem next time.
For example, if you did a sloppy job of painting a client’s wall, you could take out public liability insurance in case a similar blunder in future leads you to permanently damage a client’s property. Such damage could trigger a compensation claim, so you want to make sure you could afford it.
Criticisms could even give you ideas for new content to be posted on your website, as Marketing Land explains.