How to Turn Your Negative Customer Reviews into Opportunities

No small business owner wants to receive a negative review. The truth is, if you’re in business, it’s impossible to please 100 percent of the buying public, no matter how hard you try. The most damage occurs when negative reviews are not balanced by positive responses. According to Trustpilot, shoppers are 67 percent more likely to buy after reading negative reviews as compared to the average shopper, but this only works if you have a strategy to deal with the problem. In other words, properly handled negative reviews represent an opportunity to increase sales.

Here are some tips to turn your negative reviews to your advantage:

Respond:

A complaint needs a response. Answering a negative review can actually build consumer confidence, because it indicates your willingness to make things right. However, not all responses are equally effective – they must be timely, personalized and solve the problem. Your quick, polite response tells shoppers you are keenly interested about your reputation and are therefore likely to take complaints seriously. Your reactions will be situational, but the generous use of refunds, exchanges and credits should be a core policy. In the case of service-oriented businesses, offering to do the job over again for free will likely make a positive impression on shoppers.

Use tools:

Complaints can pop up anywhere. To stay informed, utilize social media management tools that send you alerts whenever your product or service is mentioned online. Awareness is the first step toward remediation, and app such as SparksFly consolidate social media feeds using artificial intelligence, allowing you to scan for mentions of your brand(s). You can then post an online response, even as you follow up privately with the customer. Your goal is to leave no negative comment unanswered.

Project a consistent personality:

Readers are sensitive to the tenor of your response. It should be factual, cheerful, honest and sincere. Never put the blame entirely on customers, even if it’s their fault. There is a polite way to inform customers about any misinformation they spread without putting them on the defensive. For example, you might point to product instructions to correct inaccuracies, but also apologize for instructions that confused the consumer and promise to clarify them. Never get into a negative dialog, even when you know you’re right, because it will turn off shoppers.

Publish positive reviews:

We shouldn’t have to say this, but never make up positive reviews – it could be construed as deceptive advertising. If you are doing a good job, you’ll receive plenty of positive comments. Use social media outlets to publicize these, and don’t be afraid to post paid search engine ads highlighting them. Forums are a natural destination to post positive comments, as long as you are transparent about their source and context. Invite your customers to post reviews on your website and on social media channels.

Place your company page on major online review sites:

You can post pictures of your products, store, employees who provide services, and so forth. Add directions, hours of operation and current promotions to help foster consumer interest.

Keep your chin up:

Occasionally, you’ll encounter a sourpuss who is impossible to please. Have faith that shoppers will suss out irrational reviews, especially if your responses are reasonable. Many small-business owners are perfectionists, but quickly learn that some situations are beyond their control. When you get a negative review, take all the right steps and then move on. Have faith in your abilities and your brand’s value, while remaining open to making improvements whenever necessary.

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