Today’s online review forums offer patrons more opportunities to review your business, good and bad. Although these outlets can offer a great place for recommendations and praise, without a doubt, you will eventually receive some negative feedback. Responding to reviews is a vital part of maintaining your brand, online presence, and retaining clients. Sometimes the feedback is warranted, other times there might be a misunderstanding, and yet there will be times where the review is clearly exaggerated. No matter what the negative review type, the response should consist of the same four parts.

First, thank them for taking the time to review you. It may seem odd to thank someone for a negative review, but the review gives you an opportunity to fix the problem. Patrons who take the time to tell you what was wrong are allowing your business to improve. “For every customer who bothers to complain, 26 remain silent.” By addressing the complaint of one, you are potentially retaining 26 other customers. That means on average, only about 4% of your upset customers give you an opportunity to fix the problem.  Be grateful for the 4% and treat them with respect.

Second, apologize if there was a mistake and acknowledge their feelings or frustration. Sometimes the complaints may seem petty to you, but if the problem was enough for them to review, it was big to them. “91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with you again.”  Failing to acknowledge their frustration is almost guaranteeing that they won’t return. Don’t make excuses. They make you feel better, not the customer.

Third, tell the customer if you are going to do something for them to make the situation better. Free shipping on a replacement? Gift card? Full refund? You don’t need to give away something for every complaint. However, if there is a mistake on your part do all that you can to fix it. “Resolve a complaint in the customer’s favor and they will do business with you again 70% of the time.”

Lastly, tell them how you are going to make the change, whether it’s a policy change, staff training, editing the website, or whatever addresses the situation. Complaints are only an opportunity to improve if you take the next step. Making the change shows both the customer, and all your other customers, that you value their business. “On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.” Make the investment in your customers now, and reap the benefits tenfold.

Customer service statistics found from Help Scout.

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About the Author

Leanne Schaeffer

Leanne joined Boileau after directing marketing for a hospitality management company. Through her experience, Leanne developed a rounded knowledge across industries and thoughtful insight into stakeholder perceptions. Identifying creative solutions to tough communications issues, Leanne serves as a valuable partner to our clients and asset to our company. A Grand Valley alumna, Leanne earned her bachelor’s in Advertising and Public Relations. Outside the office, she can be found spending quality time with family, rocking first base in slow pitch softball, or sitting down with a good book in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.

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