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Reviews are a big deal. According to research from Power Reviews, 97% of all consumers search for online reviews before purchasing and 68% will form an opinion about a business after reading one to six customer reviews.

Have you ever received a negative review that really got you steamed up? Nothing’s more upsetting than seeing harsh words about your business plastered on the pages of your social media accounts or business listings, and it can be difficult to keep your cool when a review seems overly negative.

Though a posted negative review can cut you to the quick, that doesn’t mean you can’t turn the situation into a positive one. Take these five steps to help you keep your cool when customers lose theirs.

1. Respond quickly.

To understand the need to respond quickly to reviews, take a look at these statistics from our ebook,  “Online Reputation Management and Your Budget: Make Sure Your Marketing Spend Pays Off.”

  • 78% of people who complain about a brand via Twitter expect a response within an hour.
  • 95% of unhappy people will return to a business if an issue is resolved quickly and efficiently.

Your quick response serves the dual purpose of acknowledging your customer’s concerns and taking the opportunity to actually address the root cause of the problem.

Your response can begin with something as simple as “Thank you for providing your feedback and letting us know about this issue.”

(You can also read more about it by downloading the ebook here.)

Reputation management and your budget

2. Apologize and empathize.

Even if the issue the customer complained about wasn’t your fault, always begin a customer response with an apology. Express empathy in your apology so the customer will know your message is sincere. You can do this by acknowledging the feelings expressed by the customer and providing a solution.

As noted by Industry Analysts, 70% of purchasing experiences are based on how the customer feels they are treated. A sincere apology and a little empathy can go a long way toward changing a customer’s experience.

Your apology needn’t be excessively detailed or lengthy to be effective. Sometimes, a few simple phrases will suffice. For instance, you might reply, “Oh no! We’re so sorry to hear that our product/service didn’t meet and exceed your expectations. We always aim to provide a happy experience for our customers, and regret that we missed the mark this time.” 

3. Actually address the issue and briefly explain your resolution steps.

While your aim is not to write a great tome about all the steps your company has taken or will take to address the underlying issue that led to a negative review, it does make sense to explain briefly any steps you’re taking to correct the problem. Do this only if it is appropriate to discuss the problem in a public forum.

For instance, if the negative review was about a problem with a customer service representative, you could say something like, “We always strive to provide superior customer service. To that end, we have reviewed your feedback with our staff to ensure a similar situation will not occur again.”

4. Take the discussion offline.

The longer your response to a negative review, the more validity that review will have in the eyes of consumers. To keep your response positive but short, offer to continue the discussion offline. You can say something like, “We’d love to discuss this further if you’re open to that idea. Please contact (insert the appropriate name and contact information here) to give us the opportunity to make things right.”

Man smiling while talking on the phone.

5. Offer compensation if appropriate to the situation.

Repeat business is one of the most valuable assets a business can acquire. According to Bain and Company’s prescription for cutting costs, you can increase profits by 25-95% by increasing customer retention rates by 5%.

Appeal to unhappy customers by offering compensation when appropriate. This can come in many forms such as a product discount, a coupon code or free shipping. Going that extra step can help turn a negative reviewer into a loyal brand advocate.

Bonus tip: Encourage more positive reviews.

In most cases, if you follow these five steps and engage with your customers so they feel valued and know their opinions count, you’ll see positive outcomes.

Even if the person who posted the negative review does not remove it once the situation is handled, the fact that you have taken positive steps to engage will help other consumers see your sincerity and the depth of your commitment to customer satisfaction.

The effect of negative reviews can be lessened by the presence of many positive reviews. Remember to ask satisfied customers to take a moment to leave a review. Train staff to mention reviews and make it easy for customers to leave quick reviews online.

Want to know more about how to improve your online reputation? Download our 5-Step Guide to Improving Your Online Reputation today.

5 step guide - 5 Ways to Keep Your Cool When Your Customers Lose Theirs