For an eCommerce merchant, there are few things as unexpected or frightening as receiving a bad review. With an increasing number of shoppers referring to customer reviews as part of the buying process, the appearance of negative feedback often initiates impulsive, ill-advised actions, such as deleting a review or engaging in a back-and-forth argument.
But regardless of your product, customer service, and attention to detail, every business is bound to receive words of critique at some point or another, and your subsequent response or action can affect your business in major and unexpected ways. Fortunately, with the right approach, a negative review can easily be turned into a positive experience, and can greatly aid your business’s ability to establish trust and build strong relationships.
Let’s take a look at some smart tactics that’ll help you combat negative online reviews.
Reply with friendly sincerity
Whether your customer’s complaint is valid, illogical, or downright rude, your reply should always be professional, genuine and heartfelt. Profanity and harsh criticism may spur your desire to retaliate with words of equal venom, but doing so will more than likely result in catastrophically negative publicity, something you’ll want to avoid at all cost.
Sincere public replies are a great way to showcase your business’s openness to honest, objective feedback -- a quality today’s shoppers actively seek when choosing which businesses to support.
If your business made a mistake or failed to meet a customer’s expectation, offer your sincerest apologies and address any mentioned concerns. Customers are eager to have their voices heard, and offering a solution publicly is an excellent tactic for appeasing an upset customer and building confidence in onlookers.
In the event your customer’s complaint is erroneous or invalid, never cast blame, push for an argument, or attempt to prove them wrong. A conflict, whether public or private, will only serve to scare away potential customers, and can even result in an unwanted media scandal. A genuine solution, however, will greatly aid in building a solid, respectable reputation for your business.
Don’t cherry-pick reviews
Ecommerce studies show that a few negative reviews can actually bolster your business’s credibility, sincerity, and improve conversions by up to 67%! The occasional negative comment, when properly addressed, demonstrates your business’s commitment to customer satisfaction and eagerness for improvement.
If that’s not enough to sway your decision, consider that 68% of shoppers are more likely to trust reviews when negative and positive responses are made visible, while 30% are likely to dismiss the validity or suspect censorship if only positive comments are available.
Encourage positive feedback
In today’s review-focused market, you’ll always want to ensure your business is actively taking steps to acquire good reviews, whether via a simple feedback form or a product-page review button. Consistently providing great customer service and a high quality product will greatly reduce your store’s chances of receiving negative feedback and encourage satisfied customers to share their experiences.
And while negative reviews are likely to aid your business, their usefulness is directly correlated to their frequency of appearance. A high number of bad reviews, especially if they share a common denominator (i.e., frequent complaints about packaging) suggest a real issue, and is a concern that deserves further investigation.
Personalize messages and follow-up
If you’re replying to a negative comment, never offer a trite, hollow apology. Give your customers a real VIP treatment with a personalized message that’s tailored to their unique situation and comments. Show you have a real understanding of the situation, their desires, and the appropriate solution.
This tip goes hand in hand with our first offered tactic, and is a great way to build trust and mend fences with a customer who’s already weary or prejudiced toward your product or service. If a customer replies with additional information, be sure to follow up with them and keep the channel of communication open.
Learn a lesson
Negative reviews are invaluable tools that can help businesses of every size and industry grow and improve. Treat every customer comment, whether negative or positive, as a learning experience worthy of careful examination and reflection. A shopper’s thoughts can help you determine your business’s strong suits as well as your weaknesses, allowing you to mold, shape and restructure your business for long-term success and prosperity.