Getting bad feedback sucks. If you ask for feedback you prepare to discover something new but getting blindsided with negative comments or reviews, that can hurt.
No one likes unexpected criticism, it can stop you in your tracks even if you are aware of the benefits. What are the benefits? The obvious benefit of feedback is to gain valuable insight from an outside source but the secret benefit of feedback, specifically to negative comments, are the opportunities to elevate your brand. This is done humanising your business, engaging with your audience, and being a proactive problem solver.
With online reviews being accessible to everyone it can feel daunting and having no control over feedback can be scary. Over the years we have even come across business owners who fear this so much that they choose not to have a social media presence. It’s an extream solution that can only lead to missed opportunities. Closing this door to public feedback is closing the door to authentic and engaging communication with your audience. If you can learn how to shift the focus of negative feedback, you can turn this into a positive outcome.
The great news is, you don’t need to be “brave”, you just need a simple plan of attack.
How to respond to negative feedback in 7 steps:
Even when you’ve been in business a long time finding negative reviews online, for the whole world to see, can be absolutely devastating. So how do you deal with feedback online?
1) Don’t Panic. Don’t Panic, and then Don’t Panic.
2) Don’t delete or report the feedback, this can result in more retaliation and you will look untrustworthy if people realise you have done this.
3) Respond accordingly asap. Take enough time to write a well thought out response but action this as a priority. The time you take to respond becomes a crucial part of how the feedback is received. If you don’t have the ability, skills or resources to respond look at working with someone who can help. Great options might be a VA or a PR expert depending on the size of your business and audience.
4) Understand the issue, place no blame on the person providing the insight. Look at how you help to solve this issue so offer a resolution in your response. While this is a generic response, try something like:
“Thank you for your valuable input. We are sorry to hear about the issue you have had and inconveniences this has caused. This is not an issue we have had before and we embrace the chance to improve our service. We are dedicated to improving and would like to offer a chance to be involved in this resolution.”
5) If you can offer a refund or a discount upon them confirming the issue. Another option is to take this offline by adding something like:
“We would also like to see how we can help you, please send us a message, an email or call so we can work out a solution.
6) Even when the feedback is unreasonable, it’s important to keep things professional and find a solution. If you’re unsure of how your response comes across run it by someone else.
7) Ask friends and happy customers to write positive reviews on the same channel as the negative one, without them referencing the comment. This will push the negative review out of a prominent position and outweigh the bad with the good.
How does this help?
The best case scenario is that you might win the person over. By showing respect and offering a way to resolve the issue, you may convert a disgruntled customer into a brand loyalist.
If you don’t manage to satisfy the customer, that’s ok. The role of your response is bigger than just the current issue, its also to instil trust for your current and potential customers.
Responding quickly and fairly shows that you focus is on customer service, and problem-solving. It also shows that your business has real people behind them. All people make mistakes so accepting any blame and offering a resolve will allow potential customers to side with you.
Don’t fear the lies:
Your audience is smart. If they see feedback that is over the top, slanderous or petty that will be able to gauge this easily.
If you find yourself in a situation where someone is being slanderous or untruthful about your business or service, remain professional and rise above it. Treat the feedback as genuine and offer a resolution.
How often have you scored 100% on a test? How often is something absolutely perfect for every person? The answer is “hardly ever”. While we all want to be seen as a business that has total customer satisfaction, it’s actually well known that businesses who don’t have all 5-star reviews are considered more trustworthy. It sounds counter-intuitive and as a business owner you may want to have full 5-star positive reviews, to your customers this will come across as staged or moderated.
So open yourself up, and be ready with thoughtful and helpful responses and you too can turn a bad review into a huge business win.