Online reviews are an important tool that helps small businesses attract new customers. Social proof associated with online reviews gives new customers enough confidence to purchase your products and services, despite not being familiar with your business.
However, in the current digital era, you should also be prepared to deal with negative reviews. Unfortunately, despite spending a lot of time to ensure that you deliver quality products/services and providing excellent customer service, negative reviews might occasionally occur.
Even though receiving negative reviews is frustrating, you have to respond to them because they are part of brand reputation management. Interestingly, several studies have shown that responding to negative reviews can positively affect your business. That said, below are some tips for dealing with bad reviews.
1. Identify Commonalities
To begin, you shouldn’t be hard on yourself or employees for the negative reviews, especially if they occur rarely. For sure, despite all the efforts, you can’t please everyone, and you shouldn’t expect everybody to love your business aspect. That said, remember that not every customer feedback is constructive, and taking every review into consideration can harm your product/services.
Therefore, as you read through customer reviews, whether positive or negative, try to identify repeated complaints. Most customers will use the term “disappointed,” meaning they had higher expectations about the products or services. Once you have identified repetitive patterns, find the product or service causing this issue.
Once you have identified the business aspect that needs improvement, brainstorm various solutions that can produce desirable outcomes. For instance, if customer service was the issue, find ways of improving services offered by your staff. This could mean training them, taking disciplinary measures, or terminating contracts of bad employees.
2. Respond Quickly
You definitely have a lot on your plate as a small business, especially if you micro-manage your venture. However, you should make time to respond to customer feedback, be it Google reviews, Facebook comments, or Yelp reviews professionally. Customers who have undergone the hassle of submitting reviews or tried to contact your business through social media platforms expect a quick response, with more than 40% expecting a response within one hour.
Therefore, make sure that you read all customer reviews and respond to them. As you respond, don’t let frustrations and anger overtake your mood. Apologize if necessary and explain how such an issue is unusual in your business. If possible, offer a special deal or discount on the product or service.
Responding immediately to negative customer reviews appeases disgruntled customers and grows your business in a new light. JetBlue shows a perfect way of how to respond to disgruntled customers. The brand has been widely known for its swift response to customer inquiries and grievances on social media platforms. These responses go beyond answering customer questions as they improve company image and create a distinctive brand voice.
3. Take Action
Reading negative customer reviews and responding is one part of dealing with bad reviews. Changing your business model and customer experience to meet customer expectations is a different challenge. Since you want to establish your business as a brand that listens to customer feedback, you should adjust your business model only if customer feedback has a significant pattern.
A good example of a brand that listened and adjusted to customer demands is Dragon Rivals mobile app. Most customers reviewed that their initial game release was difficult to play and complicated. Following this, the game creators considered their customer demands and simplified their next sequel.
They also ensured that every customer knew that their demands had been heard by responding to all negative reviews, apologizing, and explaining the changes in the new release. This led to high ratings and more satisfied customers.
4. Report Fake Reviews
You may come across some reviews that are not only unfair but also completely unfounded. It is common for your small business to receive a review from someone who hasn’t shopped from you. This could be a competitor, biter employee, or any other party that wants to attack your small business without any justification.
In such cases, contact the relevant review website directly and initiate the process of removing the fake review. Note that this becomes easy if you have claimed your business on various review websites, including Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Better Business Bureau. Most of these sites will not remove the negative review until it satisfies their inappropriate or spam review guidelines.
The increasing popularity of social media platforms and review websites shows that businesses should be more aware of their customer’s feedback. A BrightLocal study found that more than two-thirds of online customers make their purchase decisions after reading about four reviews. Fortunately, negative reviews don’t necessarily mean that you have lost business. You can use these negative reviews as an opportunity to gain new customers by handling them correctly.