Negative Reviews Going Unanswered? Get Your Front Line to Engage

Lori Maupas
Lori Maupas, Senior Content Writer

While no one enjoys conflict, in business all feedback is constructive.

Negative reviews may include valuable advice about how you can improve service quality. Complaints may point out real shortcomings, such as an operational issue, a long wait time or an unresolved misunderstanding. You can also use the information to correct recurring issues that may affect customer experience.

It’s important to make sure your employees understand the value of feedback — and the importance of engaging with customers, whether satisfied or not, to understand what went wrong, how to avoid the same issues in the future, and how potentially to turn a negative review into a positive one.

Don’t Underestimate the Value of Engagement

Replying to a review or comment has the power to build an emotional connection with your customer — and sends a great message to the larger social community, which is watching. A recent Ipsos study found that customers who feel satisfied — that is, who feel your service meets their needs — and who feel emotionally attached to your brand are twice as likely to recommend your brand and significantly more likely to do business with you again.

According to a recent Retail Consumer Report, 33 percent of the customers who received a reply in response to their negative reviews posted a positive review, and 34 percent deleted their original negative review.

Helping your employees understand this rationale for online engagement is the first step. Next you must make it easy for them to respond so they’ll follow through.

Be Prompt and Positive to Turn Things Around

If you create a culture that welcomes all feedback and gives your employees the right tools to manage a complaint, you can improve customer engagement and experience.

Here are six tools you can use to encourage employee participation and help turn negative reviews positive:

1. Set up a leaderboard. Encourage employees to respond to customer reviews by creating a little competition, either between employees or between departments.

2. Make it easy with response templates. Response templates take the guesswork out of crafting responses. When your employees have approved templates they can use to handle different types of reviews, they feel more comfortable responding. You also gain assurance that they’ll use the appropriate sentiment for each response. The best practice is to have them personalize templates to address specific situations.

3. Respond promptly. Past customers post complaints online because they had a subpar experience at a location. In most cases, customers not only want the issue fixed, they also want other people to see how you handle the situation. We recommend responding to 100 percent of negative reviews, and at least 20 percent of positive ones.

4. Own up to the mistake. Customers may have had a legitimate bad experience, so it’s important to understand their point of view and feelings. You can gain an advocate by ensuring that the front line takes responsibility and works with each customer to resolve issues.

5. Take the discussion offline. When a complaint seems emotionally charged or irrational, it may be necessary to handle it offline to keep it from escalating. Turn the complaint over to Operations for handling, or give the customer an email address or direct number to Customer Support. Sometimes showing a willingness to help is enough to resolve the conflict.

6. Generate representative reviews: The best way to get a fair, balanced and accurate picture of your overall service levels is by asking all of your customers to review your locations.

Read our eBook to learn how to turn your customers into online advocates.