Bad Reviews: The Smart Way to Address Negative Client Feedback

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We all know the saying “you can’t please everyone.” It’s a wise statement but when you run a business, it’s your job to please everyone. So, what do you do when your business falls short of excellence in a client’s eyes and receives a negative review?

Nowadays, with sites like Trustpilot, Glassdoor, and Yelp, reviews are posted online for the world to see and can cause irreparable damage if left unaddressed.

Think about it…how many times have you decided not to buy a certain product or service because of a multitude of negative reviews? People will trust your clients before they trust you.

For this reason, every negative review needs to be addressed quickly and smartly to save your business’s reputation and to keep your client from seeking your services elsewhere.

Understand the problem

Working in customer service is like walking a tightrope. Human error, technical malfunctions, miscommunications, unrealistic expectations…all these things and more can attribute to a client having a negative experience. It’s impossible to make everyone happy all the time so be prepared.

The first thing to do in your response to a client’s negative feedback, is not debate the client on the issue of whether your business is responsible, but instead, understand the problem and how it did not meet the standard of excellence.

If it’s an issue of unrealistic expectations, be sure to clearly describe your services on your website and/or marketing materials. And be honest. Don’t say claim to respond to every Help Desk question within 24 hours if in fact it takes you a few days.

On the other hand, if it’s an issue of human error, before you rush to chastise your employee, figure out what really went wrong. Was it carelessness or a insufficient training

Act to solve the problem

Depending on the nature of the complaint, it might require you to take immediate action to rectify (i.e., faulty product, item never shipped, refund never issued, etc.). In your response, let your client know that you’re on top of it and will keep him or her updated on the situation until it’s been resolved.

If it’s a human interaction issue such as a moody receptionist, abrupt responses, lack of communication, make sure your client knows that you take his or her feedback seriously and will get to the bottom of it to ensure that it won’t happen again.

These situations, while frustrating may result in the customer changing their negative review to a positive one. Some companies will even ask their clients (after the issue has been resolved) if they would consider changing their review.

Restore trust and thank the client for feedback

Assure your client that his or her experience is not the standard of care—that you have a history of providing excellent service and that if one client is unsatisfied, your business isn’t satisfied. Let this be your motto–let it be how you operate in the business world. It’ll keep you humble and teachable, two traits that are vital for every business owner to posses.

Furthermore, let the client know that you’re always looking for ways to improve as a business and that it’s honest reviews like your client’s that help you achieve that goal.

And don’t just say this, actually work towards improving the weaker areas of your business. No one likes receiving negative feedback, but it could be the best thing for you.

So, instead of moping and wishing the negative review away see it as a learning opportunity and learn, grow and thrive from it.

Give a peace offering

Peace offerings aren’t always possible, applicable, or advisable, but if you can, give a complimentary gift. This can be anything from a discount on your client’s next purchase to a subscription upgrade or gift card.

It’s a small gesture that cements the apology and shows your client how much their continue support means to you.

Without clients you don’t have a business. Show them how much you value them by going above and beyond.

In conclusion

There you have it – a smart and effective way to address negative feedback. Remember, as hard as it is to receive a negative review, it can be a flashlight that illuminates dangerous blind spots in your business’s operation. Use the reviews as an opportunity to mature as a business, strengthen weak areas, and cultivate the brand identity you want.

You can have the best product or service, but if you’re not wowing your customers, you’re doing something wrong. So, address negative reviews quickly and smartly and watch your approval rating rise.

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