Dealing with negative customer reviews is an essential aspect of managing a small business. Negative reviews can impact your reputation, but how you respond can make a significant difference. Here's how small business owners can effectively handle negative customer reviews.
Stay Calm and Professional When Responding to Feedback
Easier said than done, right? It's natural to feel upset or defensive when you receive a negative review, but it's crucial to maintain professionalism. Avoid emotional responses and remain calm when addressing the issue.
Respond Promptly to Feedback
Address negative reviews promptly - don’t let it simmer. Timely responses show that you care about customer feedback and are committed to resolving issues. However, make sure you’re not responding immediately and emotionally - take the time to figure out what the customer is talking about and how you can clearly and professionally communicate with them.
Acknowledge the Customer's Concerns
Begin your response by acknowledging the customer's concerns. Let them know that you've read their review and that you appreciate their feedback. Sure, some people like to complain just to complain, but it is possible that they have a valid reason to be complaining to you.
Apologize Sincerely to the Customer
If the customer had a negative experience, offer a sincere apology. Even if you believe their complaint is unjustified, expressing empathy can go a long way in diffusing tension. Often, a large chunk of the customer’s negative review actually has nothing to do with you - they might be having a bad day and taking it out on you. This is especially true if their interaction with you held some significance - for example, maybe it was a bad experience at your restaurant on Mother’s Day - there’s a lot of pressure there!
Take the Conversation Offline (If Appropriate)
If the issue requires further discussion or resolution, offer to take the conversation offline. Provide contact information or ask the customer to contact you directly to address their concerns privately.
Address the Issue Publicly (with Discretion)
While sensitive matters should be discussed privately, some issues can be resolved or clarified in public responses. This can also help to clear the air for people with future problems - many people go to reviews before trying a business out, so to see you respond professionally can be a good way of getting people on your “side.”
Provide a Solution or Explanation
Offer a solution to the customer's problem if possible. This could involve addressing their specific issue, offering a refund, or providing additional information. If the complaint is unfounded, politely explain the situation. Try to do this empathetically, and without sarcasm - sarcasm may make you feel good and think you look good, but it also can stoke the flames of someone’s ire towards you.
Highlight Your Business's Positive Aspects
In your response, emphasize your business's strengths and the positive experiences of other customers. This can provide balance and context to the negative review. Also - encourage people to leave reviews when they have a good time to counterbalance the negative!
Learn from Feedback
Hey, maybe it was your bad. It happens! Use negative reviews as an opportunity to learn and improve. Consider whether there are recurring issues that need addressing in your business operations.
Monitor and Respond to All Reviews
Continuously monitor review platforms and respond to all reviews, not just negative ones. Engaging with positive reviews also shows appreciation for loyal customers.
Getting Customers on Your Side Is Useful Down The Line…
Showing your customers you care about them can be incredibly rewarding not just in creating repeat customers but also when you decide it’s time to grow. When you let your customers invest in you with a Honeycomb Credit investment offering campaign, if they have a good relationship with you they turn into your strongest advocates! Learn more about how to launch a Honeycomb investment offering by filling out the form below.