One of the challenging side effects to having an online presence for your business is dealing with negative feedback, especially since the Internet provides many open and accessible forums for customers to review or comment on your products or services. On websites like Yelp, or social media outlets like Facebook, dissatisfied folks have the opportunity to vent their frustrations even before contacting your company. While you can’t satisfy everyone or fix every problem, you can respond to public complaints in a professional matter. Here are five steps to follow when handling negative comments online:
Regardless of the type of unfavorable criticism your business receives, it’s vital to remain calm in order to react in an appropriate and fair way. Instead of responding immediately, if you’re feeling upset or angry, wait until you’ve calmed down before communicating with a disgruntled client. If both parties are mad or irritated, then the issue won’t get resolved, so don’t let your emotions get in the way of providing assistance to those who need it.
Once you’re ready to reply calmly and rationally, make sure to do so publicly, on the same forum or thread where the complaint was made. It’s the convenient and simple way to connect with the displeased individual, before trying to reach out to them via phone or email. A public reply also shows others that you’re invested in communicating honestly and fairly with all clients, as well as correcting wrongdoings or misunderstandings.
One of the keys to great customer service is being respectful. If a consumer has taken the time to remark on a product or service, then it’s essential to give them the attention they deserve. Assume that all paying customers have the right to complain and treat them with patience and dignity. When responding to a bad review (in most cases), you must apologize sincerely, thank the commenter for their feedback, and give assurance that you want to resolve the issue quickly. After acknowledging that there’s a problem, commit to trying to fix it so that you’re not making false or empty promises.
Rather than ignore a grievance or blame it on the client, take ownership of the situation and work on finding a solution. Even if you’re dealing with a difficult person, the better business policy is to be liable for mishaps and to handle complaints in a prompt and courteous manner. When you take responsibility, clients will appreciate your professionalism and most likely continue to invest in your company.
In the same way that you won’t be able to please every customer, you also can’t prevent people from voicing an opinion about your products and services. You can, however, track online comments or reviews about your business. Track what’s being mentioned anywhere online about your company with Google Alerts and other online reporting systems. By monitoring what people are expressing, you can respond to grievances more efficiently and work on your professional reputation more effectively.
When you come across negative feedback, remember that most criticism is useful—it can help improve your business, or at least teach representatives or employees how to cope with frustrated individuals. Instead of being defensive, rude, or apathetic toward unfavorable commentary, be considerate of your clients’ concerns. Respond to them quickly and politely so that you can build a positive reputation and nurture customer loyalty.