Thanks to Julia Rogers and her recent post on smallbusiness.aol entitled “Managing Online Customer Feedback: 5 Things You Need to Know” (http://aol.it/p56Yt9).
A recent study by Forrester found that many online shoppers rely on the reviews of other customers to inform their purchasing decisions.
In analyzing more than 4,000 ratings on Amazon.com, Forrester found that 80% of reviews were positive, and the negative reviews were actually constructive and helpful to consumers.
A recent study conducted by Harris Interactive found that customers who get responses from companies change their tune:
- 34% delete their negative posts
- 33% post a positive review after they’ve been helped, and
- 18% turn into loyal customers.
As a business owner, how do you deal with negative, and even angry, customers online.
I would start by saying the same thing if they were expressing a complaint personally or via telephone, “thank you.” If the customer doesn’t speak up, you don’t know there’s a problem, so begin the conversation by letting the customer know you value their feedback and go from there.
Here are five other things to think about:
- Even negative reviews can help build customer loyalty. Do not overreact when you receive a negative review. Your customers need to feel encouraged to say what they’re thinking, even when that is less than favorable towards your company’s products or services. Business owners very often make the mistake of only posting positive reviews. This will make prospects suspicious. Negative reviews can help build a loyal base of fans in the long run, because they provide businesses with the opportunity to do something special for disgruntled customers and a dissatisfied customer who is converted to a satisfied customer will be more loyal than the customer who never corresponds.
- Identify the root of the problem. Customer complaints can help you identify weaknesses in your business. Reviews will typically fall into one of four categories: 1) clear problems; 2) constructive criticism; 3) justified attach; and, 4) trolling or spam. Deal with the first three in a straightforward and transparent way. Ignore the fourth and feel free not to post their comments.
- Know when to respond. Here are five instances in which comments deserve a response directly from the business owner: 1) you really made a mistake and need to make it up to the customer; 2) the customer has the facts wrong and is criticizing your company for something you never promised or did not offer; 3) the review starts to take on a life of its own (even if unfounded or insignificant); 4) a customer is actually angry with you; and, 5) a bad review is getting other customers riled up.
- Know how to respond. Act professionally at all times. Listen to angry customers and let them get all of their issues on the table before responding. Be transparent when responding, apologize for the mistakes you have made, figure out how to correct the mistake and appease the customer. Stay cool. Be human. Do not take the criticism personally. Make promises to improve and do so.
- Encourage your good customers. Negative reviews will have less impact if you have far more positive reviews. Encourage satisfied customers to post reviews of positive experiences. This will help create testimonials for your business that will help bring more great customers in the door.
To find, and respond to, more online complaints, schedule it into the work routine. Invite reps who are most familiar with social media platforms to be part of a team that monitors your online reputation. Schedule them to monitor social sites at least hourly each day so you can respond in a timely manner.
How do you currently handle negative reviews?