Negative reviews are unavoidable, and definitely not fun, but learning how to reply can change the negative to a positive. Handling the negative reviews correctly can extinguish possible fires, and let your customers know that you care and are willing to make things right.
You should strive to reply to negative comments within 24 hours (the sooner the better though!). It's much harder to reply quickly if you don't know that there is a negative review. Make sure you claim your pages on Facebook, Google, Yelp, and any other social media platforms you are on. People are going to write reviews whether you claim the pages or not, but this way you can be apart of the conversations. After you've claimed your pages, make sure notifications are on. This will allow you to be notified via email whenever a review is posted.
Sounds simple right? Well you would be surprised how many companies use automated replies to every comment. Automated replies make it look like the business doesn't care what the customers have to say, and that's a reputation no business wants. Other customers and potential customers often read negative reviews, and how you handle the situation can make or break your business in their minds. Your reply should include details that let your customers know you read the post. Look into their complaint to see what happened and respond with specific action steps to remedy the situation. Make sure your reply doesn't point fingers! There's nothing worse than having a bad experience and then getting blamed. The customer will be more upseet and others will think you don't care about your customers.
Show empathy and understanding. For a customer to write a complaint they have to be pretty disappointed or upset, so empathizing will make them feel better and show you care. Apologize if you should, but don’t apologize if you are not in the wrong. Now, that doesn’t mean tell them they are wrong or blame them! Instead of apologizing for your mistake, apologize that they did not have a good experience.
Empathy + apology + your company’s expectations + thank you for taking the time =success!
Some people just like to complain, and nothing you say will make them more agreeable. Those are the posts you want to avoid commenting on! Judge the post as if you were reading it from another customer’s point of view. If the comment is just an angry rant then say you’re sorry they didn’t have a good experience and move on. Some people on the Internet just want to pick fights - don’t get sucked in! If someone starts to complain just to cause a ruckus or can’t be made happy by anything you try then just move on. If you do not give them attention most likely they will go away, because it is no fun to complain if no one is responding.
An example of a great response to a negative comment comes from Earnhardt Honda…
“Jay – thank you for bringing this situation to our attention. First and foremost, I would like to apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused you, as well as any miscommunication from our service department that led to your distrust in our dealership. Our service technicians are highly trained and qualified. I am discouraged to hear your negative experience. Above all else, providing excellent customer service is our main goal and it is unfortunate you were not treated with the respect you deserve. Given the opportunity, I would like to learn more details about your case and to be able to make things right. Please contact me at your convenience. Sincerely, Austin H. Customer relations manager (phone number (email)”.
The best thing to remember is to not get emotional. There is nothing worse then an angry response that makes your company look bad!