Times have changed over the past 20 years. People still ask for referrals, but the way they access this information is what’s different. Facebook has become one of the most common places to get recommendations about a product or service. If someone is looking for a business out of town, a lot of times they will turn to Yelp or read Google reviews. This is a great tool for consumers to get the lowdown on how tasty a restaurant’s steak is or how customer service treats people on the phone.
Negative comments can shed light on improvements your business can make. According to SweetiQ, negative comments could be a result of hours of operation, a drop in food quality, price hikes among other factors. But what happens when customers leave negative comments? How should businesses respond? Do they have any recourse against these claims?
The good news is that businesses do have the power to do something when negative comments occur. For one, you can respond to the claim, whether it’s on Google, Facebook, or Yelp. Nowadays reviewers have to use their name, so you can crosscheck the reviewer’s name with your receipts to see what caused the problem. After that, it’s important to respond quickly and empathize with the customer. Admit that something slipped through the cracks and offer to make it up to the customer. If you don’t want to publicize what you are willing to give, tell the customer to contact you directly to get more info and make amends as you see fit. Online reviewers expect to hear back from the business.
The good news is that once you respond, 34 percent of reviewers deleted their negative review, 33 percent went on to write a positive review, and 18 percent bought more. The effect of responding to a review also reaches to other customers. The same survey said that nearly a third of consumers researched what other customers said while shopping online.
According to Social Media Today, businesses can respond to negative comments in at least three ways:
- State the facts about the situation without putting the blame on the consumer.
- Be sincere in your response and resolve the issue.
- Be transparent. If you made a mistake, admit it. No one is perfect.
The worst thing you can do is ignore a negative comment. A few years ago I saw a business that had a fan page on Facebook where someone wrote that they wished the restaurant alerted him that they don’t do deliveries.
As a potential consumer, seeing that post alone would make me second guess ordering from there. Compound that with the fact that the post was several months old and no one responded to it made it appear that the restaurant was not aware or didn’t care. When I brought it to the restaurant’s attention, they acted as though they didn’t want to be bothered with me.
There are several companies that specialize in reputation management. If you have a business where you’re not normally by a computer, it would be wise to hire a company to handle this for you. If you serve enough people, someone is bound to be dissatisfied with their experience. Don’t get too wrapped up in one negative review. Address it quickly, stick to the facts, empathize with them, and let it go.
While it’s not possible to get the review erased on your own, taking these steps will soften the blow that negative comments may have on your business. Here’s an infographic that describes how you can manage your reputation on your own vs. hiring a company to do it.
- Social Media Today | 12 Principles for Responding to Negative Online Comments
- Entrepreneur | How to Handle Negative Online Reviews
- Businesses Grow | A 6-step plan to respond to negative social media comments
Images via TechWyse