Negative reviews can really be stomach curdling to read for any small business owner.
‘Your Company sucks.’
‘My order got messed up and it’s your fault.’
‘I will NEVER order anything else from your business.’
‘Do your employees know how to spell C-U-S-T-O-M-E-R S-E-R-V-I-C-E?’
Without a doubt, any business large or small has it’s share of disgruntled customers but what has changed in the last couple of years is the opportunity to air their grievances to all and sundry through free online media. Anyone can now write a tweet, post a Facebook status update, write a blog post, write a review or upload a video on YouTube and rant lyrical about their bad experience with your small business.
So how does a small business owner handle these negative reviews? Here are 5 steps to help you control and rectify the situation
Step 1 Don’t Over react!
No matter how distressing a negative review may be, you don’t want to get anxious, fearful or so angry that you get into a super impulsive state and say or do something that you will regret later. So the first step is to just stop, get a grip and take a moment to calm down.
Step 2 Get the Facts.
Now that you have calm and clear mind from step 1, look over that negative review with an objective attitude and do your research to get the facts regarding the case. This involves matching up what the reviewer has written with your own company information about the particular transaction or experience. For example if they complained about being sold a bad product, look into your sales records and get the complete invoice, billing and shipping information and what went wrong with the transaction. By getting all your facts BEFORE engaging with an aggrieved customer, you will be able to have a clear and organized approach and know whether your business was in the wrong or not
Step 3 Respond to the negative Comment on website where it was made.
If your small business was in the wrong then,
- Make a sincere apology to your customer
- Using your researched facts, explain what happened in the transaction
- Highlight that your small business doesn’t normally do business this way with its customers based on your core values
- Let them know that this will not happen again and the steps you have taken or are going to take to make sure of this
- Let the customer know you value them and would like to do business with them again with a better service experience
- Offer to rectify the situation free of charge or offer a complimentary coupon or discount and let them know you will be contacting them about this. You can also provide a contact email address or phone number for them to contact you.
Now if your business was not in the wrong, you would still
- Let the customer know that you are sorry they had a bad experience with your company and would like to rectify the situation
- Present your side of the story using your researched facts without sounding arrogant and trying to blame them.
- Invite the customer to personally get in touch with your company so that you can sort things out. It’s best to give them an employees name and customer support email address/telephone number so that they feel they will get personal attention. In this way, you are moving the confrontation offline.