Oy vey. A customer just bashed my company online!
Don’t fret just yet. Bad reviews of businesses are extremely common and almost always unavoidable. After all, you’re only human, and so are your customers.
Even if the criticism is unwarranted or out of line, the customer always has the power. He or she has spoken in a public forum, and customers typically trust their peers online.
However, no one’s world has ever ended from one bad review. If your customer has a problem with your business, you can handle it calmly and do your best to not make the same mistake. But we all know that is easier said than done.
Here are five ways to safely deal with online company criticism.
Supervise Your Social Media
Customers know that when companies aren’t responsive over the phone or through email, they can take their rant to social media. They know they’ll get much-needed attention that way and that their problems will be solved at a far faster pace.
If a customer tweets a criticism, posts one on your Facebook page, or comments on your Instagram, you should reply to them to take care of the issue. According to a study by Edison Research, 42 percent of customers expect a response from a business within 60 minutes of making a post on a social media site.
You need to be on top of your social media management by monitoring your accounts 24-7. Whether you hire an agency like Marqana to do this or you utilize a dashboard like Hootsuite or Sendible, you should be looking at what your customers say on a constant basis. Remember to be gracious when you reply. Apologize for their negative experience, offer a solution, and thank them for their business and loyalty.
Don’t Leave Negativity Waiting in the Wings
We can tap our pretty red shoes together and say, “there’s nothing like positive reviews, there’s nothing like positive reviews, there’s nothing like positive reviews,” but doing this won’t make the negative ones go away. As mentioned above, when a review appears online, you should absolutely respond to it.
However, make sure your reaction is appropriate and well thought out. It doesn’t matter how time-sensitive the issue may be, never respond from an emotional place. Use your better judgement and try not to take any comments personally. You’ll only risk looking, well, insane.
Take a deep breath, and try to see the experience from the customer’s point of view. You may put your heart and soul into your business, but that doesn’t always matter to a patron.
Whether the reviews reside on Yelp, social media, your website, or local search directories, respond to them as swiftly as possible. And consider offering these particular customers some sort of deal for visiting your business again.
Post the Positives
Don’t delete the negativity. Instead, use good reviews to push the bad to the bottom of your social media feeds and down into the darkest depths of Google…
One way to do this is by posting positive customer testimonials on your website, social media sites, and YouTube page. After you’ve had a great interaction with a customer, see if they’d consider writing a testimonial about your company. Retweet, favorite, and share updates from customers that show you in a good light.
Depending on what your company does, you can always volunteer to stop by and interview your best customers for testimonial purposes at their workplace. If their company uses your product or service, you can showcase their name in the video in return for their time. There’s nothing better to bury negative reviews than a real-life customer showering you with praise on Youtube.
You can also re-purpose reviews that are already online. Look out for them on your business’ Facebook page, LinkedIn recommendations, Yelp, or Google Places.
Woo and Reward Yelpers
If you are focused on B2C or have a physical location for your business, you should set up a Yelp page. People rely on it to make decisions about whether or not they’ll utilize your products.
When customers make purchases, kindly ask them to go onto Yelp and leave you a review. If they leave a review, offer a percentage off their next order or some other dividend to show you care. If you ask them to write a review directly following a transaction, they may offer you immediate feedback. Which could help you avoid a burst of unexpected online criticism in the future.
Customers want to know that you care about them. This is a great way to show that you actually listen to what they have to say.
Negative Can Actually Be a Positive
Negative reviews can lead to a positive change in your business. You may talk to customers in a certain way without realizing it, or you could discover a recurring problem with your employees you would not have seen otherwise. Those negative reviews could end up being the silver lining on your company’s enormous cloud.
Whatever you do, try not to let criticism ruin your whole day. If you’re running a business, you should be good at rolling with the punches. One or several bad reviews can’t break you. Just address them promptly, consider their underlying message, and move on.
Be thankful that we live in an age where crucial opinions and feelings can easily and quickly reach you. Isn’t it exciting to know that your customers care enough to give you their feedback? When you keep a progressive mindset, every critical comment can be used to make your business bigger, better, and stronger than ever before.
A version of this article was published on April 22nd, 2015 as How to Spin Critical Customer Reviews Into Gold by Kylie Ora Lobell