Uh oh! You just received a bad online review and the customer is furious. Your next actions determine whether you can make the best out of an unfortunate situation.
Receiving a bad review can feel like the end of the world for a small business owner. Your business is personal and it can feel like a kick in the gut. Some outcomes are unavoidable and sometimes very one-sided. However, these are the same feelings on either side of the transaction.
Don't stress a bad online review
Bad online reviews are going to happen, whether you like it or not. They can be unhappy customers, fake reviews, or trolls. Regardless, there are ways to deal with them. Let's focus on when an unhappy customer leaves you a review.
Often times, an unhappy customer will leave a negative review as a way to be made a priority. Customers know that small businesses thrive on great reviews and receiving a negative review must be prevented at all cost.
Don't get upset, relax and reflect on the customer's experience
Were the needs of the customer fully met? If not, did they have different expectations? Wrong expectations occur before the transaction has taken place. By the end of the transaction, these wrong expectations have had time to grow into something bigger.
Upset customers usually just want to be heard and get attention
What you have to understand is that the customers who are vocal about their discontent are giving you the opportunity to improve your abilities, communication, and the experience you create for all of your customers. Treat this as a learning experience, every time.
Try to communicate with the customer
Customers can be consoled through communication. If the customer's issue is reasonable and there is a possible positive solution, this needs to be communicated with the customer. At the same time, you need to be open to the customer's feedback.
Write out your first communication
Carefully craft your communication with the customer, even if it will be over the phone or in person. This preparation helps you keep your own emotions under control. Make light the fact that the review has been received and apologize for any error in services or product. If the issue is with a product, can it be returned or replaced easily? If it is a service, can the result be modified or services rendered again easily?
Give time for processing and easing emotions
When you contact the customer, give them time to process what is happening. They may still be upset, so giving additional time for emotions to settle can be a good for the outcome. While the customer is taking the time to process a new option, be ready for their response. You want to be quick and responsible for completing any next steps.
Be persistent, but not annoying
If you are unable to reconcile on the first contact, follow up with another contact several days later. You want to be courteous of your customers time and attention, and by consistently following up to resolve the issue, you are displaying your dedication to good service. Be careful not to badger your customer with too much contact as it can be seen as annoying, or even harassing.
Give assurance and ask for a second chance
Once the customer is ready to reasonably communicate, provide assurance that their satisfaction is priority. This is now the opportunity to right the wrong and correct any issue that resulted in the negative review. Don't go overboard and sell yourself short, but do give extra effort to make the situation right. Also, make it a priority to improve your communication with the customer. Your goal is to please your unhappy customer so they reconsider their attitude towards your business.
Do you deserve a new review?
Once the customer is satisfied, you will now have an opportunity to change that bad online review. If the customer is expressing to you how much better things are or how much better the experience has improved, the chances of changing the bad online review are looking good.
Ask for a new a review
Your best approach here is to be grateful the second chance and the learning experience. Hopefully, you did find a way to grow as a professional and as a business to avoid this situation in the future. When the customer is pleased with the results of the transaction, you can request that the customer reconsider their negative review and update it with new information.
Show your appreciation
Give your appreciation to the customer for their collaboration for solving the issue. Without them speaking out on their negative experience, you would not have the opportunity to become better.
Learn from this experience to prevent it in the future
While it is possible to change the outcome of some sour transactions, not all will be as simple or forgiving. Do your best to prevent this type of scenario in the future by making the channels for communication with your customers loud and clear. Online reviews are a great way to boost your business' exposure and credibility, but these same reviews can work against your business when utilized by the vocal few who want to be heard.
Beyond trying to correct an issue for an unhappy customer, you can also take the time to ask your happy customers to leave a review. By asking for a customer review, you greatly increase the likelihood of getting an online review as opposed to not asking at all.
The likelihood of receiving a bad online review for your small business is at its highest when you aren't asking for customer feedback or reviews. The chance of getting a bad online review is at its lowest when you have a process in place, such as a customer review funnel, for gathering feedback and guiding your happy customers to where they can leave you a review.
Last, if customer satisfaction is important to your small business, then consider using a customer satisfaction survey as part of your follow-up communications with your customers. You can gain insight into your customer's experience in greater detail, which can help you make furhter improvements to your products and services.
About The Author
Chris is the owner of Mediaryte, a digital commerce company working with local small businesses. He has worked with countless business owners on business mastery, systematizing processes, and quantifying results. Chris also is a competitive fat bike racer and has a fantastic sixth sense for detecting well hidden candy and treats.