A negative review can be a slap in the face for a brand or organization. This is especially true if the review comes from an online platform. So, how do you navigate these sticky situations? Every business is bound to deal with a negative review on occasion so knowing how to act appropriately is crucial.
It can be easy to become defensive of your brand, organization, or product. Don’t react on instinct to protect yourself or these things, though. Instead, take a moment to collect yourself and think through the following tips.
“I think something we naturally want to do is argue or defend on behalf of our organization,” says Ryan Brown, Integrated Marketing Director for Kenra Professional. “The problem is that reacting when you’re in this defensive mindset is that you’re not thinking clearly or professionally. Instead, take a minute to compose yourself and decide on the best course of action.”
While this seems somewhat counteractive to step 1, it is important that you don’t take so much time to calm yourself down from your initial knee-jerk reaction that you miss a critical window of opportunity.
“Don’t wait too long. If the review is out there without a response from the brand or a representative, it’s going to look like you don’t care that someone is dissatisfied,” says Ajay Mehta Co-founder and CEO of Birthdate Co. “Another problem with waiting is that the situation can escalate quickly if the review is online. It only takes a few shares or interactions for a comment or review to become very noticeable.”
Separate Yourself from the Brand
This can be hard to do, especially if you have committed a lot of time and effort into making the brand what it is today. However, there’s a good reason for doing this, as you will see below.
“It can be so easy to take something that’s said about your organization personally, but you can’t do that in the professional world,” says Jeff Henretig, President of Apothecanna. “In the long run, it’s going to be so much harder to empathize with the client. If you are thinking of the brand as an extension of yourself, it will be nearly impossible to respond appropriately to the unhappy client.”
Tell Them Who You Are
This process can take on a few different appearances. But making the customer feel valued even through a negative experience can go a long way in improving their view of the company and the view that others hold as well.
“Introducing yourself goes a long way,” says Mike Pasley, Founder of Famous IRL. “Let the customer know what position you hold within the company so they don’t feel like they’re being responded to by a random person can go a long way. Only responding from the brand’s account feels cold and impersonal, so having a name and title to go along with the person that’s communicating with them is important.”
Make It Personal
Building off of the last tip, our next expert had advice on how to make the customer feel seen and valued in the response that they’re sent.
“Don’t send the same generic reply to every complaint you receive,” says Craig Carter President & CEO of Jack Mason. “If a person sees that everyone is receiving the same generic response or they don’t feel like they’ve had their question answered because the reply feels automated, they are likely to become even more upset. Yes, this takes more time and effort, but it makes a big difference in customer service and brand presence.”
This might be one of the hardest things to do, but being the bigger person in this situation can convey a better message than correcting someone who is wrong or becoming frustrated by the review.
“Thank them for something,” says Dan Potter, Managing Director and CEO of CRAFTD. “Even if the only thing you can thank them for is letting you know about the issue they had, it still makes them feel appreciated and can change the tone of the conversation. Let them know you appreciate them taking the time to write their review and make you aware of the situation. You don’t have to tell them everything you’re going to do to solve the issue they had, but letting them know their opinion is valued and heard can make a world of difference.”
Empathize with the Client
This has been touched on in a few tips, but our next expert had even more to say about the importance of empathy.
“You have to put yourself in their shoes,” says Rahul Khatri, Co-Founder and CXO of Stoggles. “Understanding where they’re coming from and why it made them so frustrated that they had to leave a negative review is the first step in knowing how to respond to them. Do they not see the value in the product? Was there faulty manufacturing? Was there a miscommunication? Shipping delay? Try to understand why these things would be so upsetting and show them that you are taking their feelings into consideration when you do respond.”
Use Negative Reviews to Better Your Brand
Critics can be one of a brand’s best assets. If you are receiving bad reviews about a certain aspect of your brand, it might be time to take those into consideration and use them to make your brand better than before.
“Use those bad reviews to grow,” says Max Spielberg, President of Genexa. “If consumers see you using their feedback to make your products or services better, they’ll see that you really care about your consumers and that can have a great impact on the overall view of your brand.”
If the experience has left the individual frustrated to the point that they felt drawn to leaving a negative review, sometimes offering a bit of an olive branch in the form of compensation for their experience can help smooth things over.
“You have to remember that bad word of mouth or bad reviews that aren’t responded to appropriately can be a much greater loss than simply refunding an unhappy consumer,” says
Nicholas Vasiliou, CEO of BioHealth Nutrition. “Letting them see you value them enough to reimburse them or provide a coupon or discount for their grievances can improve the public appearance of your brand as well as the relationship with that consumer.”
Prevent Negative Reviews
This seems like a no-brainer. Ideally, your product or service will be so awesome that not a single person will complain. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. So, what can you do to prevent these reviews from happening?
“Have a way for the people to contact someone within the brand with questions or concerns,” says Amanda E. Johnson, Chief Marketing Officer of HIDE. “Often, people leaving a negative review feel frustrated and like they have no other option but to turn to social media or other review boards to let others know of their negative experience. Having someone they can contact quickly to resolve the issue and soothe their frustrations before their review becomes a public post can solve the problem before it starts.”
While negative reviews are unpleasant and sometimes difficult to deal with, we hope that this list of tips and tricks for dealing with these reviews will help you in the future. Remember that there is a client on the other side of the screen that was initially drawn to your product or service, so try to use these tactics to walk away from the situation with a customer that not only feels heard but may even return in the future.