No business is immune from negative reviews. It’s just not possible to make everybody happy, no matter how great your customer service is. This means that in addition to prioritizing customer service, you need to have a good plan of action in place for when you do encounter a negative review or frustrated customer. Here are five ways you can respond effectively to customer dissatisfaction:
Don’t Take It Too Personally
Resist the urge to become defensive, no matter how unfounded the review may be. All that matters is that the customer felt that they had a bad experience, so you shouldn’t try to convince them that they didn’t. If you feel frustrated, that’s fine- just take a deep breathe before responding, and be sure that you are approaching the situation with a level head. If you are writing a response and are finding it difficult to not be defensive, then do the best you can to write something and then ask someone you trust to read it over.
Once you have diminished your feelings of frustration, then you’ll be able to provide an honest apology for the customer’s experience. You may not agree with or understand the customer’s degree of unhappiness, but once you take a step back, you’ll realize that only patience and sympathy can fix the problem.
Highlight Your Strengths
If you truly believe that the negative review does not resonate with your business, then you now have a great opportunity to say so! Acknowledge the customer’s bad experience while explaining why you were so disappointed to hear about it.
For example, let’s say you pride yourself on serving sushi that was swimming in the ocean yesterday. If a customer complains that their tuna tasted spoiled, then you can validate their feelings but also express how your business truly has high standards for its fish:
“Were sorry to hear that you were unhappy with the quality of your fish. We pride ourselves on serving the freshest fish that is locally sourced from the Atlantic Ocean. Since your experience does not reflect this, we would like to offer you a refund and a free dinner on us.”
Provide a Solution
Apologies are nice, but they’re even better when accompanied by a solution. Whether it’s offering a refund or helping the customer with a problem that wasn’t properly addressed the first time, there’s always something you can do to turn the customer’s negative experience into a positive one. If you are responding to a review online, it can be helpful to request the reviewer’s contact information or provide yours, so you can follow up in-person.
Learn From Your Mistakes
Sometimes bad reviews come from customers who have very high standards, and while you can apologize to these types of customers, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should change your policies to accommodate them. Much of the time, though, reviews can reflect potential areas for growth and improvement. When receiving negative feedback, it’s important to examine if the problem is a real and prevalent weakness in your business. Speaking with your staff can help you to determine this.
Another way to find out if the customer’s complaint is valid is to look at your response to it. People are generally defensive when they know they’ve done something wrong. If you feel angry with a customer who makes a reasonable complaint, then there very well could be merit to what they are saying.
Be honest and open to flaws in your customer service or business, because identifying and fixing them is what helps you to succeed.
Best of luck on finding the right words to respond to negative customer feedback!