Many businesses are now coming to terms with the fact that a social presence is no longer an option, it’s a necessity. With Facebook’s 1.5 billion monthly active users and Twitter’s 310 million monthly active users, it’s no wonder businesses are flocking to social to increase brand awareness and promote their products and services on the platforms their customers are using everyday. Even companies that aren’t currently on social may have a presence and not even know it.
However, some businesses still shy away from social because they are afraid of what their customers might say. But, like it or not, even if you aren’t aware that you are on social, your customers are still talking about you. It’s important to claim your brand or company pages and stay on top of your brand’s online reputation by using social media platforms as an extension to your customer service efforts. Treat bad reviews as a chance to prove you, as a business, are a real person and are listening to your customers. A well crafted response or apology to a bad review is a better way to handle customer service online than not responding to the comments altogether. It’s a way to defend and strengthen your business’ reputation online.
As a business owner, you are proud of what you have accomplished and have taken the time to carefully make decisions regarding the outcome of your business, so reading reviews that are not positive towards your brand may be a hard pill to swallow. It’s important to remember that you aren’t in your customer’s shoes. Yes, some do complain to complain and you will be able to pull those apart from the pack. Others may have a general concern and this will give you insight to how your business is being perceived by your customers. It’s important to read this with a grain of salt and take a step back before you respond. Responding harshly will only further damage your reputation online.
Follow these simple tips to respond to a negative review:
1. Always respond in a timely manner.
Keeping an already angry customer waiting for a response will make the situation worse. Most are understanding that you do have a business to run, so a minimum of 12 hours MAX is acceptable. However, for negative, reviews we recommend responding as soon as you are able.
2. Apologize and take the conversation offline.
Showing other customers that there is a real person behind the brand and responding to the public review with an apology, will give your brand credibility. This shows that you do care about your customers and are willing to reach out to take care of them.
3. Never offer a freebie as a response to a bad review.
Offering a free lunch if you own a restaurant to a complaint will open the floodgates for others to complain to gain something for free. If you are going to offer them a freebie, always take the conversation offline, by asking them to call your business directly.
4. Always be positive and avoid an accusatory tone in your response.
Even if the review isn’t a direct reflection of the service they had received, it’s important to remain professional in your response.
5. Stay polite and always say thank you for your feedback.
Take this cue from Publix who responded to this complaint, stated their policy, and stayed polite throughout:
While we recommend responding to comments and reviews right away, we also recommend taking some time to calm down if you are frustrated or hurt. A heated response is guaranteed to make your business look unprofessional. Come back and respond after you have had time to craft a polite response. Remember that these comments are public, and many other customers will be looking at how you respond and treat your customers. If you keep these elements in mind, your online reputation and customer service will be on point, which will build trust with all of your customers viewing your social media profiles.