Every ecommerce business owner dreads the thought of receiving negative reviews. However, it’s going to happen sooner or later. It doesn’t matter which marketplace you sell on, whether you use Shopify, WooCommerce, or some other platform, or even how detailed and descriptive your product photos and listings are, you are almost guaranteed to run into an unhappy customer at some point. That fact alone is enough to instill some fear into online business owners, but it can be downright scary to actually see a negative review pop up.
It doesn’t have to be that way though. With some plans for dealing with negative reviews in place, you can be prepared to handle them, use the experience to learn, and turn a negative review into something positive.
Address the Review Quickly
You may want to bury your head in the sand when you see a negative review – but you cannot do that! It won’t go away if you ignore it. A quick response is a must because you want to have the fastest resolution possible.
Keep a close watch on your business’ social media and review sites so that you can take care of any issues before they get out of control. Monitoring the sites where customers can leave ratings, reviews, or comments is crucial to minimizing any damage that negative feedback could potentially cause.
Although it’s very tempting, don’t delete negative reviews. The customer who left it will feel like their opinions are either being silenced or ignored. They may take their comments and negative reviews somewhere else online where you have no control over them. Only in situations where there is serious trolling or inappropriate behavior should you consider hitting the delete button. Keep the conversation in a place where you can manage it.
There are four things that you should strive to do in your response:
- Be prompt – Respond as soon as you can to keep the situation from escalating. Do your best to not let 24 hours pass from the time the review is posted until you have reached out to the customer.
- Make it public – The negative review is public, and your response should be as well. You have to take ownership over the issue and respond quickly and where others can see. Not only do you work out something mutually satisfying for you and your customer, but it also allows other customers to see that you are a conscientious business owner who does all they can to fix errors.
- Be professional – Being online makes it a lot easier to be insulting, argumentative, and rude, but you can’t fall prey to that when responding to negative reviews. Keep your response professional, courteous, and respectful, no matter what you are actually mumbling under your breath.
- Keep it positive – When posting negative reviews, customers might be angry or condescending. You cannot match that energy as a business entity. Remember: everyone is watching. You can’t lose your cool. Treat upset customers with respect even if they aren’t doing the same for you. Studies have shown that 70% of a customer’s perception of their buying experience is based on how they feel they were treated. If a customer feels as though their complaints were met with hostility, the likelihood of them ever buying from you again can dwindle down to zero.
Show Some Empathy
A little bit of empathy goes a long way. When a customer leaves a bad review, often what they want is to feel like their concern has been heard and that it will be fixed. When you are making your response, try to put yourself in their shoes and understand what they are upset about – and then express that empathy to them.
Very few people will take the time to write a review unless they feel like they were genuinely slighted in some way. Keep this in mind when you are dealing with a negative review. Surely you have had a situation when you felt like you were treated poorly by a business – poor customer service, website error, or slow shipping. Do you remember how you felt? Probably angry and frustrated. Your customer may feel the same way. When you acknowledge their frustration, you show them that you value them as a customer and will do your best to fix the situation.
Apologize and Make It Right
A successful response must have an apology at the beginning. It’s the most important part of the response. When you are reaching out to a customer who has left a negative review, apologize for two things: the situation itself, and how the situation made the customer feel. Show your customer that you understand a mistake was made, and that you are taking ownership of it.
When you are willing to take ownership, you will win your customer’s respect and perhaps even solidify a loyal relationship with him or her for the future.
Now you need to address whatever the concern is and make it right. Identify the problem, its source, and offer to resolve it as quickly and as fairly as possible. If your customer was a victim of a shipping error, replace the item. If they aren’t satisfied with the product, refund their money. If there was slow shipping, a website issue, or inventory management problems, offer a discount code to compensate them for their trouble.
And don’t just leave the mistake to happen again. Add the necessary software or workflow corrections to solve the issue for the long term.
Use Negative Reviews for Something Positive
There are a bunch of benefits you’ll see when you have properly dealt with a negative review.
- You learn valuable information about your business. For example, you may receive a review that says the photos in your listings are blurry and the details are hard to distinguish. That gives you an opportunity to correct the problem by improving the quality of your pictures.
- You learn from your mistakes. When you have identified a problem brought up by a customer, you have the advantage of figuring out a way to never let it happen again.
- You become prepared to handle customer service issues in the future. You may not make the same mistake twice, but you are likely to make others. Dealing with one will make it easier to deal with others.
- You learn that some criticism is good. When you receive a negative review, think of it like having a consultant instead of a complainer. Then you will be in the right frame of mind to figure out a way to resolve the issue and keep it from happening again.