This is a guest post written by Podium
Today, most consumers need to see a healthy average star rating and a few of your most recent reviews to be convinced of your company’s credibility. In fact, 88% of consumers form an opinion by reading 1-10 reviews.
With that said, it’s incredibly important to ensure you have positive reviews and a lot of them. This helps increase your average star rating and decrease the odds of potential customers basing their booking on a single negative review.
But, it’s not always that simple. Whether it’s a tour that started late or a customer that’s having a bad day—things don’t always go according to plan. Sooner or later, a bad day will turn into a negative review.
If and when that happens, it’s important to know how to respond. That’s why we’ve put together a 5-minute, 3-step guide to responding to negative reviews.
Step #1: Know when a negative review goes live
This step may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many businesses aren’t aware of new reviews they receive, or that they have any reviews at all.
It’s important to know when these reviews get posted online so you can respond appropriately and ensure the same mistake doesn’t happen again. The easiest way to do so is to work with an online review management platform. For example, Podium aggregates reviews in real-time from sites across the internet, keeping you in the know the moment a new review goes live.
If you aren’t ready to get started with a review management platform, we recommend turning on Google Alerts. Google Alerts allows you to track online conversations by specified keywords or phrases in real-time, allowing you to manage your presence and hear what people are saying about you, good or bad.
This is, undisputedly, the first step in combating and responding to negative reviews. After all, if you don’t know the review exists, how can you respond?
Step #2: Respond to the negative review as fast as you possibly can
Now that you’ve read the negative review, let’s discuss how to carefully craft a response.
First and foremost, it’s important to ensure that the person responding on behalf of your business is removed from the situation that sparked the negative review. For example, if there is a negative comment about a salesperson, they’re probably not the best person to respond to the review.
This is crucial because any response to a negative review should be calmly written and well thought out. When someone with an emotional investment to the situation is the responder, the message will generally come off as defensive. We know that not every business is in a position where someone disconnected from the situation can respond, and if this is the case for your business, respond as dispassionately as possible (here are a few calming techniques).
Next, follow these few steps:
- Apologize (“We’re sorry to hear…”)
- Approach the review with a calm and collected response (cushioned-defense)
- Offer a proactive way to right their wrong (“We’d like to do what we can to resolve the situation…”)
- Ask to continue the conversation privately (“We’ll follow up with a direct message / Contact our customer service manager…”)
That should yield a response similar to this one:
“We’re so sorry to hear that your experience was a negative one. We’d like to do what we can to right any wrong. Please contact our Customer Service Manager so we can resolve your issues. We’ll also reach out to you in the next day or two to discuss how we can resolve your issue.”
Make sure you craft a response and get it posted as quickly as possible. This way anyone who sees the negative review will also see that you are a responsible business that takes care of your customers. 53 percent of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week.
In many cases, negative reviews are not truly representative of your business. Responding to them in a courteous, professional manner builds consumer confidence as potential customers research your business.
Step #3: Learn from Feedback
Learning from customer feedback is one of the most valuable, long-term steps you can follow to improve your business. It allows you to gain valuable insights into your customers and make data-driven decisions about your processes. This will be valuable for positive reviews as well as negative reviews.
The process is simple:
- A transaction takes place and your customer leaves an online review.
- Your business takes note of the review (positive or negative) and responds upon receipt.
- If the online review is positive, your business reinforces existing processes or performs optimization. If the online review is negative, your business alters existing processes to improve the overall customer experience.
A customer feedback loop will continuously provide insights, and in turn, your business managers can continue to alter or optimize processes.
If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a negative review, don’t let that stop you from embracing customer feedback. Instead, learn how to improve your business from the experience.
Did you know that 84% of people trust reviews as much as recommendations from a friend? By following the above suggestions you’ll be building your brand and your business online and off.