You put in boundless energy and effort, and lots of hours into your small business. So when a negative, unflattering comment comes in, perhaps on social media, it totally crushes you. It seems like it’s an affront to your business and to yourself, personally.
It’s not the end of the world. These non-complimentary comments need not be a crisis for your business. Most people who post complaints in social media just want to be heard. Ignoring them or sweeping their feedback under the rug sends a bad message. It says you don’t care about their experience. If you pull back a bit and take a little time to respond, you can actually turn around this negative thing into a positive experience for your business.
Experience shows that a significant portion of these negative reviews turn positive when you respond.
Here’s how you can work out your response with thoughtfulness and some creativity:
Take A Deep Breath
Take a few moments to recognise and understand that negative blows are not personal. They are not directed at you. Chances are these unhappy customers just want to be heard. Even if the feedback is rude or harsh, there must have been some small thing that had made them irate. Go through their history carefully. See if you can find anything to help you understand the root cause of the issue and how to best address it. No doubt they were emotionally upset when they were writing these posts. With a little time and you acknowledging their complaint, there’s a great chance they’d be less negative.
Empathize With Their Bad Experience
It’s not important whether your business or your staff were at fault. What’s important is that you acknowledge what they’re feeling as a result of their bad experience and that you’re sorry they’re feeling that way. An apology is not so much admitting to a mistake but rather it’s an acknowledgement of your customers’ experience and you conveying the idea that it was never your intention to disappoint them. For example, your response could be something like “We’re sorry your order came late. This order fell short of our standards”.
Unless your customer is the hard-nosed, ever whining, never-satisfied mother-in-law stereotype, how can anybody quarrel with a statement like that? Meanwhile, your business was not only able to express that it was sorry for a customer’s unpleasant experience, but you were able to flip the story to reinforce your normal standards.
Bring The Conversation Offline
After an apology, there may be a need to continue the conversation privately. You could request the complainant to email you the details of the experience so that you may be able to better serve him/her in the future. In your complaining customer’s eyes, this reinforces the importance you put on customers.
The sooner you address negative feedback, the sooner you’ll be able to defuse it and turn it into a positive. Always stay on top of uncomplimentary feedback by monitoring your email spam filter and social media closely.
Don’t forget to build your positive reviews as well. Business experts report that a majority of Internet users trust on-line reviews.