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Dealing with negative reviews: what to do if customers complain

9th December 2023

3-minutes read

With the rise of online platforms and social media, it's easier for customers to voice their views than ever before. Negative reviews damage your reputation so it's crucial to handle them effectively to maintain good public relations. Find out what to do if customers complain and how to manage online reviews.

Understanding the importance of online reviews

Online reviews are a crucial aspect of running a business. With platforms like Google and social media, customers have the power to voice their opinions and experiences publicly. This feedback can greatly influence other would-be customers and their decision to engage with your business.

Understanding the importance of online reviews is key to improving your business's reputation and success. Positive reviews not only build trust and credibility with customers but also boost your online visibility. Potential customers are more likely to choose a business with positive reviews over one with negative or no reviews.

Moreover, online reviews provide valuable feedback that can help you identify areas for improvement. They give you insights into what customers love about your products or services and what could be enhanced. By actively listening to your customers' feedback, you can make necessary changes and ultimately provide a better experience for your target audience.

But what do you do when reviews turn bad? Let's look at some strategies for responding to negative reviews professionally and protecting your brand's reputation.

Responding to negative reviews

Responding to negative reviews professionally is essential for maintaining a positive brand image and addressing customer concerns. When a negative review arises, it's crucial to respond promptly and professionally. Begin by thanking the customer for their feedback and expressing your willingness to address the issue. Remember to remain calm and composed, avoiding any defensive or confrontational language.

In your response, address the specific concerns raised in the review and provide a solution or an explanation. Be empathetic and understanding, showing that you genuinely care about resolving the issue. Encourage the customer to reach out privately to discuss the matter further, demonstrating your commitment to customer satisfaction.

It's also important to consider the wider audience reading the review. Responding publicly allows potential customers to see that you take feedback seriously and are proactive in resolving any issues. However, if the matter becomes too complex or personal, suggest moving the conversation to a private channel to maintain confidentiality.

Ultimately, responding to negative reviews professionally showcases your dedication to customer service and can turn a negative experience into a positive one.

Learning from negative reviews

Negative reviews can be disheartening, but they can also be a valuable learning opportunity for your business.

Instead of dismissing them or letting them bring you down, use them as a chance to grow and improve. Take the feedback provided by customers and analyse it objectively. Look for common themes or issues that arise in multiple reviews, as these are areas that may need attention.

For example, if several customers complain about slow customer service, it may be worth investing in additional staff or training to improve response times.

Additionally, negative reviews can provide insight into aspects of your business that customers value. If a customer mentions a specific feature or service that they disliked, take note of it. On the other hand, if a customer praises a particular aspect of your business, consider emphasising it in your marketing materials or making it a focal point of your business strategy.

Negative reviews can be a goldmine of information that can help you better understand your customers' needs and preferences. Embrace them as a chance to learn and adapt, and your business will only benefit in the long run.

Dealing with the unreasonable

The positive, professional approach works well if your customer makes a valid point in their review. But on occasion, you may experience someone raising an issue that you simply deem to be untrue or unreasonable. Whenever the point they make relies on their interpretation or their point of view, it's hard to distinguish fact from fiction... it is, after all, simply your customer expressing how they feel about something. 

One of our clients received an online review from someone they know has never actually been a customer! They suspected a known competitor was behind the false review. While remaining objective, they responded to the online comments and pointed out clearly and politely that they had never completed any work for, or even knew of, the reviewer and perhaps he was thinking of a different local supplier! 

Encouraging positive reviews

In order to build a positive online reputation for your business, encourage your satisfied customers to leave positive reviews.

One effective way to do this is by simply asking them.

After completing a transaction or providing a service, politely request that they share their positive experience by leaving a review on platforms like Google or other relevant review sites.

You can also provide incentives for leaving reviews, such as discounts or exclusive offers, to motivate customers to take the time to write about their positive experiences.

Additionally, make it as easy as possible for customers to leave reviews by providing direct links to review sites on your website or in follow-up emails. By actively encouraging positive reviews, you can offset the impact of any negative feedback and build a strong online reputation that attracts more customers to your business.

Jeremy Flight

Jeremy Flight

Technical Director

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