IT WAS NOT THAT LONG AGO THAT THE EXPRESSION “WORD OF MOUTH” WAS LITERALLY ONE PERSON TALKING TO ANOTHER PERSON. TODAY IT HAS CHANGED TO “WORD OF INTERNET.” ALMOST EVERYONE I KNOW HAS DONE IT… THEY HAVE GONE ONTO A FORUM, REVIEW SITE OR SOCIAL MEDIA TO COMPLAIN ABOUT A NEGA- TIVE EXPERIENCE WITH A BUSINESS OR PRODUCT. WHEN A CUSTOMER IS UPSET THEY HAVE OPEN CHANNELS NOW TO VENT AND COMPLAIN TO THE WORLD.
THIS IS USUALLY EFFECTIVE AS BUSINESS OWNERS DO NOT WANT OTHER POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS TO BE SWAYED BY A BAD REVIEW SO THEY WILL GENERALLY RESPOND MUCH FASTER. THE WORST CASE SCENARIO IS THE BUSINESS DOES NOT RESPOND QUICKLY OR AT ALL, WHICH CLEARLY SAYS TO THE OTHERS THAT THEY DON’T CARE. BAD REVIEWS ARE NOT THE END OF THE WORLD IF HANDLED PROPERLY… IN FACT, IF YOU RESPOND CORRECTLY IT CAN SHOW THAT YOU ARE TRULY THERE FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS AND WILL DEAL WITH ANY SITUATION AS IT ARISES.
Here are 5 tips on handling a negative review:
Immediate is the new expectation.
When someone is upset, taking a long time to respond will only ignite the anger, potentially resulting in even more complaints on additional chan- nels or the same one. People today have an expectation that if they have sent something online, it has been seen right away. Although we know this is not always true, your business should be checking social media sites and review platforms daily. If you are signed up for Google reviews, Yelp reviews or other sites such as RateMD.com they should be prompt- ing you with an email that you have received a review (good or negative). Take this opportunity to open it as soon as feasibly possible so you can respond immediately.
There are a few ways to look at this… one the complaint is valid and honest and the customer has every right to complain or you need to do some in- vestigation into what has actually transpired to truly understand the situ- ation. Either way you need to say something online so that this customer and anyone else looking at the review knows you are on it. It is sometimes as easy as saying: “We apologize for any inconvenience you have expe- rienced and we want to make this right. Could you please contact us at (contact info) as soon as possible?”
Take it offline.
Businesses often make the mistake of trying to
say too much or x the problem online in front
of everyone and not only can that blow up in your face it is also not what other customers want to see. Customers only are interested if you are reacting and responding. That is truly what they care about and if you have reacted quickly and professionally then they assume the rest of the transaction will follow suit.
Don’t take it personally.
I know this one is di cult for most people… we work hard every day helping people with their eye care and eyewear needs so it is like a personal attack when someone vents online for everyone to see. Take a deep breath… understand that in the large scheme of things only a few of the hundreds of people you help ever complain and of those most have a valid concern. It is better to deal with it head on and as fast as possible. In my experience, when you react fast and with empathy the person involved usually responds favourably and feels guilty about complain- ing. They may even remove the review if it is handled well.
Own the problem.
Don’t give them any reason to come back and add to the complaint. Once you have publicly apologized, do what you know needs to be done to x or investigate the issue at hand. Most customers are not expect- ing full refunds or free eyewear, they are likely just looking to get the problem xed and maybe some small compensation for their time and trouble. Take ownership and see the complaint handled and resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.
Last note: Don’t forget to respond to good reviews as well. Thank them for their time and comments.
Trudi Charest is the Co-Founder of 4ECPs, a business resource company for eye care professionals. www.4ecps.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.