Businesses today rely heavily on consumer reviews posted online to promote services or products. While a business can manage the narrative within review sections on their own sites, they have little control over the comments and ratings that appear on third-party platforms. However, while your business can not remove negative reactions, you can (and should) respond to them. Here are some strategies for turning negative online consumer business criticisms into business assets.
Own the Issue
As an invested business owner, you take pride in your offerings. Therefore, you may naturally take a defensive posture when a customer posts what you perceive to be slings and arrows for the world to see. Take a deep breath and step back for a moment when such comments appear. Take measure of what the author says and add the essence of the comment to your potential self-improvement agenda. Then prepare to respond.
Your taking a moment’s pause can pay dividends when you make your next move. To show that you are a responsive company, post a sincere response to the criticism. You should give a direct response based on the issue. Either you need to clarify your service or product and how it is meant to be used, or you should note the concern and specify how you will look into it. Diplomatically thank the commenter in any case, and do take responsibility for the issue.
Fix What You Can
Sometimes you need to provide a refund or other form of compensation. To what extent and how often you make amends depends partly on your promoted policy. Every customer complaint is not equal and you have to decide where to draw the line. Sometimes, as well, you have to follow your instinct. Receiving an apology can be just the reward for some customers.
Spread the Responses
While it makes good business sense to address negative reviews, you should also respond to positive write-ups. Doing so shows you give equal weight to all customer opinions. However, you want to come across as sincere (rather than robotic and dismissive), which you can do in two ways: First, do not respond to every review; second, avoid providing repetitive, formulaic responses.
When you visit an online site where your product or service is noted, as a business owner you probably take a deep breath before scrolling down to the reviews. You never know whether you will be pleasantly surprised or unduly mortified by what you find. By providing timely and pointed responses, you can turn negative critiques to your advantage.