Unfortunately, as hard as we all work to please our clients, things happen. Mistakes get made, clients may have unreasonable expectations, or bad communication just happens. When responding to negative comments or reviews, it’s essential to keep in mind that it’s not just the initial reviewer that will see the response; it’s the whole internet, and that speed is of the essence.
First things first
The first thing to do is to acknowledge that the customer had a bad experience and promise to immediately look into it. Even if the company wasn’t in the wrong, being sympathetic may help defuse the tension raised by the poor review.
Move it offline
Try to move the conversation offline as quickly as possible. This can be done by offering contact information to the reviewer so that they can talk on the phone or in-person to a customer service rep or the head of the department. This shows both the offended party and anyone else reading the review that you were responsive and attentive to their needs as well as their privacy.
Confirm their identity and problem
Be specific and know the customer. Rephrase what the client complained about when you’re responding. Try paying attention to who they are. Do they have a name on their account? Can you look at their account? It’s important to confirm this person was actually a client. The sad reality of our world is that there are trolls out there whose daily job/hobby in life is to spread hate and discontent. If this is one of those times for you, acknowledge they are upset, confirm that you can’t find them listed as a customer and would like to take the conversation offline to better serve their concerns. It’s important to say this so that others reading reviews can identify that this is likely a troll.
Keep the responses as short and well mannered as possible. A long-winded reply may come off as the company trying to defend themselves and the situation. This would beg the questions, why and what do they need to defend? Three to four sentences should provide enough information for everyone to understand that the company cares about the customer and their experiences and that they want to work on improving the situation.
Don’t use business names
When responding, try to avoid using the business’s name or any relevant words relating to the company. Words corresponding with the company may show up in online searches, dragging up past problems after they were resolved. It’s counterproductive and would demand more work.
Last but not least, always respond
Be smart and act quickly when responding to negative comments, keeping the reputation of the company in mind. The very worst thing that can happen is to not respond to negative reviews as it shows other potential customers two things: 1) you aren’t attentive and 2) the offended customer was likely right.
For more information or help in communicating to your clients or dealing with reviews, please contact Erica Pefferman at Erica@columbiamarketinggroup.com