Few things are as terrifying to a new business owner like waking up to see notifications on your phone from an angry customer ranting on social media. Or worse, hearing about a negative mention of your product from a third party. Sigh. Word of mouth is arguably one of the most effective tools of marketing. But it can also go the other way.
As fast as good news spreads, bad news spreads as well, sometimes even faster and social media has made this ten times worse. It’s so much easier for things to go viral. Sadly, bad news spreads even faster. Yet, somehow, running a business means you get to deal with these negative reviews. Below we share a few ideas on how you can handle them.
Respond immediately and be polite and professional
Don’t wait for it to blow over. Reach out immediately and be polite and professional when talking to the customer. Not just with your words but even with the tone of your voice. Sometimes you can tell when someone is faking that apology or not. There’s a saying ‘The customer is always right.’ So, pacify them first and then get down to the root of the matter.
Try to avoid a back and forth online
Take it offline. Offering to call the customer on the phone is a much better option than a back and forth conversations online. If it’s a minor issue that can be resolved quickly online then, by all means, stay online and resolve it as fast as possible. But avoid a lot of back and forth, especially as things can be lost in translation when sent via text.
Seek to find a solution rather than making excuses
You may have a genuine reason for e.g. not delivering on time to a customer. And most people would be emphatic but you’re also expected to be resourceful. Not every customer would be emphatic and some may not care. And the next thing, they’re calling you out on social media. So if all is really lost, don’t have a ‘there’s nothing I can do attitude’, be willing to compensate them. Maybe offer a replacement, or give them a discount on their next purchase. Just be careful not to let people take undue advantage of this.
Finally, learn from your mistakes
Work on the things that caused that negative review to occur in the first place. Yes, some things are out of control, so focus on the things that aren’t and use them to make your business better for your customer. When negative reviews for your business are handled properly, you can actually turn your ‘hater’ into your ‘evangelist’ or potential losses into wins. I’ve seen testimonials from people where they had a bad experience with a business but because the business handled the situation so well, they ended up singing its praises.