We’ve all done it. We’ve all reviewed a business, whether by word of mouth or a written review online, we’ve shared our experiences with others. As a business owner this is a great way to get the word out about your business – we want our customers to advocate for us! Studies show that over 90% of people trust their peer’s opinions and 70% consult online reviews before making the final decision to patronize a business. But what happens if the review is bad?
Unfortunately, not everyone is going to be a happy customer, which is okay. We can learn from our customer’s criticism and improve our products and services. The average consumer only needs to read 3 negative online reviews before they’ll change their mind about your business. So what do you do when that angry customer makes their opinions known on social media?
Don’t Delete It
We’re all human and customers don’t expect you to have glowing reviews all the time. It’s not realistic. Don’t delete these posts when they do occur. Instead, take this opportunity to showcase your customer service. Prove to your customers that you value their opinion and welcome the feedback by publicly responding to the post. If it’s a customer who had a bad experience with your staff, apologize and let them know that the behavior is not condoned. If it is a client, invite them to connect offline by offering them your direct contact information and letting them know that you sincerely want to hear from them. Customers only take the time to write bad reviews when it has truly bothered them. Thank them for letting you know and tell them that something is being done about it. Even if you can’t offer an immediate solution your customer will appreciate that you’ve acknowledged them.
Respond Within 24 Hours
Your customers have taken the time to let you know about their experiences and they want to be heard. Let them know that you hear them. A good rule to answering angry posts is to respond within 24 hours. Unlike a brick and mortar store, the Internet is never closed. This means that your Facebook Page, Twitter feed and website are now responsible for handling any complaints that may come in after hours. When you first see a complaint posted it’s important to act, not react. This is your business and it’s hard not to take it personally, so take a step back and re-read the complaint, then take a minute to investigate what really happened. Speak with the employee if they are complaining about your staff or look up the customer’s account. The more informed you are the easier it will be to respond and the more helpful you can be. Customers will appreciate the quick reply and other Facebook fans or twitter followers will see that you take them seriously by providing a well thought out and timely response.
Make sure that your reply sounds like a real person and not a standard marketing message. Nothing is more insulting than taking the time to give a company feedback only to be met with the same spiel given to the last customer. A blanket response is definitely not the way to make your fans feel like you took the time to hear them. Remember, social media is a conversation so if you’re going to invite people to communicate with you on these channels, be sure to actually have a conversation and be sincere.
Negative reviews happen and most of your customers will understand when things don’t always go as planned. In the past we used to be able to apologize, explain what happened, shake the customer’s hand and ensure that they were leaving your store happy. While the growth of eCommerce and popularity of social networking sites has changed the platforms on which we do business, the principles remain the same. Customer service is still important, and while we can’t always shake their hand, treating your digital customers as if they were right in front of you will continue building that personal connection with your business and keep your clients happy.
by Elise Richardson, Digital Marketing Specialist
Follow Elise on Twitter: @eliserichardson