A riddle: What's a primary hurdle businesses face when seeking to expand their sales and operations?
Hints: It’s something that can’t change overnight. It also can’t be bought or sold.
A company can spend thousands of dollars on advertising and marketing, but unless it establishes an honest, sincere rapport with its customers, a basic level of trust will never be formed. No amount of money will ever create the trust that prospective customers are seeking to establish before they purchase from your brand, nor could money help current customers maintain and build relationships with your brand.
Online review platforms offer one location from which organizations can gather customer feedback and use it to establish and grow this communal sense of trust. What a business does with customer feedback is vital to its overall progression. By establishing a high level of excellent customer reviews, a company is able to display itself as a brand that provides excellent goods and/or services, and one worthy of its customers’ time and trust.
But what happens to this hard-earned trust after some negative reviews begin to lower the company’s excellent rating? Is there a way to turn negative reviews into positive assets, and as author Jay Baer puts it, “hug your haters?”
When you read a negative review from a customer, your first reaction may be to feel discouraged and frustrated. You feel confident in your offerings. In this situation, what could have gone so wrong that it elicited a low rating on a five-star scale?
How to Respond to a Negative Review
Take a deep breath and step away before responding to the review. Mistakes happen. If the customer clearly states what inspired their complaint, it’s your corporate responsibility to investigate the issue. When you do respond to the review, keep your tone positive. Apologize for the less-than-desirable experience and offer to make amends. Doing so will help your brand achieve the following:
- build a level of trust that the customer — and other prospects — will appreciate;
- show that you’re willing to address and fix mistakes;
- demonstrate that you’re committed to treating each customer with the patience and service they deserve;
- prevent new prospects from being initially turned away by negative reviews; and
- win back customers and build brand advocates who are likely to tell others about your stellar customer service.
Insights From Reviews Go the Extra Mile
Beyond retaining and winning customers, interacting with reviews can also help your team garner insights that vastly improve your business. As a business owner reading reviews, you're probably all too familiar with how forward customers can be. When customers point out specific flaws with the buying experience, use these insights to improve your current processes so the issues cease to occur. By replying to customer comments, you’ll let individuals know that you appreciate their feedback and are working to improve internal processes, fix issues and enhance the overall customer experience. Customers will appreciate the effort, and your bottom line will reap the benefits.
Extracting Value From Every Customer Review
To ensure your customers and your team get the maximum value out of every review, follow the below three tips:
- Respond within 18 hours of receiving the review. This shows you check your feedback frequently and are willing to address issues sooner rather than later. No one wants to wait around for weeks for a question to be answered.
- Personally address each message and issue. Canned messages won’t regain a customer’s trust if they were displeased with your service. Take the extra minute; show that you truly care about your customer and treat her as if your company's success hinges on her purchase.
- Go above and beyond customers’ expectations. Nothing is worse than a scorned customer. It may take more time, but responding to negative reviews and establishing trust-based relationships help demonstrate that you're willing to defend your customer relationships, not throw them away.
Jordan Garner is the director of customer success, North America, for Trustpilot, a source of user-generated reviews of businesses online.