Online reviews are one of the most significant forms of social proof. When consumers are faced with confusion about which brands to pick, reviews can change their perspectives.
Studies show that 93% of consumers consider online reviews for buying a product. Hence, online reviews are definitely a big deal. This is why most businesses always encourage their consumers to review their products and services.
But, like everything else, this too has its downside. Reviews come along with their fair share of negativity. Every business is going to get negative customer reviews, no matter how good their products are, or how excellent their customer service is.
So, instead of loathing negative reviews, it is always a good idea to embrace them with an open heart. Accepting negative customer reviews, handling them, and taking action are the best you can do.
Let’s focus on how to deal with negative reviews online.
Negative Reviews are not Necessarily Bad
Yes, negative reviews can also be good for your brand. How come, you ask?
Did you know that 85% of consumers look for negative reviews for making a purchase decision?! I’m sure most of us have done that. But why? This is probably because we all want to know the worst possible reviews of a product before making a purchase decision.
Here are a few reasons why negative reviews can be beneficial for you:
- Too many positive reviews and no negative reviews may seem fake for a lot of consumers. No negative reviews seem too good to be real. Hence, having negative reviews can actually increase your conversions.
- With negative reviews, you get a chance to win the customers’ life-long loyalty. This is because negative feedback allows you to connect personally with the consumer, address their concerns, and win over their hearts. This leads to increased customer loyalty, provided you handle the negative reviews in a proper way.
- Negative reviews are an excellent opportunity to improve your products and customer service. Imagine, if you don’t receive any negative reviews, you don’t exactly know what is going wrong unless you explicitly ask for feedback. Hence, if you handle negative reviews and take action, you can immensely improve your products along the way.
In short, we can say that negative customer reviews can actually be useful for the overall growth of your business.
How to handle negative reviews?
1. Embrace Negative Reviews.
As already discussed, negative customer reviews are not necessarily bad for your business. So, instead of sulking about them and trying to defend every other negative review you receive, you should work on embracing them.
Don’t take any of these negative reviews personally. Instead, think about the bigger picture. Try to take it positively. Think about how you can view it in a good light. Think of it as an opportunity to win over another customer.
2. Respond to negative reviews as soon as possible.
Responding to negative reviews is good, but doing it ASAP is the best way to go about it. If you take a day or two to respond to negative reviews, there is a high chance that the customer will get agitated and develop even more bad opinions about your brand.
Instead, if you take the extra step of being prompt with your responses, the customers will feel that you value their opinions and will believe that you are taking the necessary action.
Moreover, failing to respond to negative reviews on time may lead to even more negative reviews. And this will ultimately lead to increased customer churn and a bad reputation for your brand.
Your immediate response does not have to be an elaborate resolution to their problems. Just a simple message where you apologize for the inconvenience and let the customer know that you are working on it would be enough.
3. Personalize your response.
Apart from the speed of your response, it’s important to know how to respond to negative reviews. We all have seen those copy-pasted customer service responses, and do you remember how you feel after reading them? You feel even more frustrated and form bad opinions.
So, do not just respond with the same generic message to all the negative customer reviews you receive. Instead, send personalized responses to each of the reviews you receive.
But, why is personalization important? Every customer of yours is different. Each one is at different stages on their buyer journey.
Moreover, each customer has put up negative reviews because of the different issues they have had with your products. Hence, sending the same message to every customer is certainly not the right thing to do.
You need to address every customers’ problem individually. But with a large customer database, how is it possible to customize each response? A powerful Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool can come to the rescue here. Such tools can help you organize all your customer communications and history in one place, allowing your customer service team to pull up any customer’s history, previous interactions, modes of communication, or previous issues faced with a few clicks.
This way, you’ll know if the customer who has given you a negative review has faced similar problems in the past, what products the customer has purchased, and all other relevant information.
Imagine if you had to ask these questions to the customers when they are already frustrated with your products. It will lead to an even more negative opinion.
4. Apologize and emphasize.
Always, always apologize when you respond to negative customer reviews. That is even if it was not your fault at all. Customers are always going to be the king. So, start every response to a negative review with an apology.
Also, it’s a good practice to show some empathy towards the customers. Instead of trying to reason with the customers’ reviews, you should give room for empathy.
5. Keep the details private.
Depending on the negative review, you can consider taking the conversation elsewhere. Sometimes, the resolution to the problem might not be simple. Hence, responding online can lead to unnecessary, long conversations that don’t look good on public timelines.
So, try to get in touch with the customer via a phone call, email, or live chat. This will, again, lead to increased customer satisfaction, and you’ll be able to resolve the issue with minimum damage being done online. You should leave a brief response online as well, but make sure to resolve the issue via other channels.
6. Take genuine action.
Genuinely caring about your customers’ problems and trying to resolve the issues ASAP, is the most important part of dealing with negative reviews. If you fail to take any action, more customers will churn, and your brand will gain a bad reputation online.
It is important to set up systems in place to handle all the negative reviews and feedback you gain from your customers. This is the most essential part of making the best out of your negative customer reviews.
For taking the right steps to resolve customer complaints, it is important to go deep and understand the root cause of the issue. Make-shift fixes may work for a while. But, over time, people will come to you again and again with the same negative reviews.
So, interact with the customer, try to understand what exactly is the issue that they are facing. After that, dive deep and analyze the root cause of the problem. Then, come up with resolutions that will satisfy the customers.
7. Keep an eye on your online reputation.
For responding to negative customer reviews within a short time, you have to know when there is a negative review against your business on the internet. For this purpose, monitoring your brand’s online reputation is extremely important.
You can use any of the online reputation management tools for monitoring your online presence. You can also set up Google alerts for your brand name and product names to receive email alerts whenever any person mentions your brand or product name.
Proactive monitoring of the online presence of your brand is very important for responding to and resolving negative reviews within a shorter time. By focusing more on online reputation management, you’ll not only be able to improve your brand’s online reputation, but also be gain customers’ trust.
To summarize, we can say that negative customer reviews can be a good thing for your business. But, it depends on the way you handle all the negative reviews you receive.
So, instead of ignoring such negative reviews, start embracing them. Respond to every negative review, apologize, and try to find the root cause of the problem to find a satisfactory solution.
The steps in this article can be a good place to start if you want to make the best out of the negative reviews.
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