Bad online reviews can be the death of a business as increasingly connected customers research their purchases on the internet before making up their minds. It is no question that word-of-mouth & going viral on social networking sites have become some of the most powerful forms of marketing. According to Nielsen, approximately 83% of consumers trust purchasing recommendations from people they know. Of those, two-thirds (66%) say they trust other consumers’ opinions posted online – even without knowing who is on the other side of keyboard.
With so many consumers sharing their opinions across the web and throughout their social networks, this can quickly become a PR Manager’s worst nightmare. It has become more and more important for businesses to continually monitor what is being said about them online and be ready to quickly intervene when necessary. That said, no matter how proactive you are in responding to online reviews, you will still likely fall victim to negative customer feedback from time to time. When that time comes, how do you react without losing your cool?
Here are a few of the guidelines I’ve set for myself to follow when I am facing a bad online review:
1. First, breathe. No matter how upset the customer may seem, how offensive his or her digital tone might seem, whether his or her claims are correct or not… you still need to keep it together and act like the professional you want others to view you as.
2. Do not immediately dismiss feedback from your customers. If they are taking the time to write it down and tell you, it must have made a strong enough impact on them that they think something can – and should – be done to change this experience for future customers.
3. Do not delete a customer’s feedback if it has already been visible on your company’s profile or social media page. There’s a good chance others have already noticed it, and if they don’t, the customer who wrote it will call you out on it.
4. Look into the customer’s claims. There may actually be some truth behind it.
5. Respond sincerely, show empathy, and when necessary, ask the customer if he or she can send you a contact number so the two of you can chat privately and resolve or further investigate the customer’s claims.
6. Do not offer refunds or discounts publicly over the web to avoid copycat behavior.
7. Share about your experience with your team to weaken the odds of you looking at a repeat situation in the future.