How do you manage online customer feedback? It can be scary knowing the world will see their opinion – but fear not, WOMO.com.au has the solution to get you covered!
The usual complaint process involves recording the incident, passing the information on to key staff members and maybe even putting in place procedures to ensure it never happens again. With the saturation of social media and the increasing popularity online reviews, a bad experience at a spa or salon is now public and online for all eyes to see. The traditional system of dealing with complaints can no longer suffice; customers now want to be dealt with instantly and as individuals.
“In an era where customers feel empowered and have reviewing platforms at their fingertips, even the best business can be face the brunt of a disgruntled customer,” said Fiona Adler, founder of WOMO.com.au.
“Learning how to minimise the consequences of less than positive reviews, and turn them on their head to work in your favour, is the key to effective reputation management.”
Seven steps to negative online feedback:
1 – Don’t panic!
The moment you first become aware of a negative review is not the time to respond. “Yes, you should reply and address their feedback quickly, but you need to make sure you’re in the right mindset,” said Fiona. “For business owners, it’s very easy to take any criticism personally as it can feel like a personal attack. Keep the review in perspective and don’t take it to heart. Remember that it’s only one person’s experience and everyone understands that things can go wrong – even for the best businesses.”
2 – Respond publicly
Even if you know the customer, responding publically is a great idea as it gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your business’ values and showcase your concern for customers. “You should comment on, or reply to, the review and apologise unconditionally, while still showing others the best sides of your business. Remember that potential customers will be reading your response and forming opinions based on what you do when things go wrong,” said Fiona.
3 – Be gracious, keep your cool
Take a deep breath and think carefully about what you’re going to say. “Even if the reviewer seems to be making unfounded claims, don’t lash out, get personal or argue against their review” said Fiona. “Remember, this is one of your paying customers!”
• Thanking the reviewer for their feedback
• Acknowledging their dissatisfaction (and anything you are doing to avoid the same situation from happening again)
• Pointing out relevant positive aspects of your business
• Inviting them back (preferably encouraging them to contact you personally)
4 – Offer to make amends
“While you can allude to this publically, I suggest that where possible, you contact the customer directly with some sort of offer to resolve their issue or compensate them for having a bad experience, whether you think their grievances are legitimate or not. This could be in the form of a refund, a free service or product, or some type of special treatment on their next visit. With proper handling, often an unhappy customer can turn out to become one of your most loyal fans,” said Fiona.
5 – Take feedback on board
The customer isn’t always right but they are always the customer. “If you get a similar complaint several times, chances are you should do something about it. If something’s broken, you need to fix it! So get your head out of the sand and work out what it would take to address the problem. Customer reviews are basically cheap market research so use them to your advantage,” according to Fiona.
6 – Address dubious reviews
If you doubt that a review is from a real customer of yours, or think it’s factually inaccurate, avoid making your feelings public as you’ll only sound bitter. “Flag the review as ‘inappropriate’ or ‘suspect’ to the host website and explain the reason for your suspicions, they should be able to investigate directly,” Fiona said.
7 – Encourage other reviews
“The more positive reviews you have, the less impact each negative review has. Rather than let one negative review attract all the attention, ask some of your happy customers to share their experiences online!” Fiona added.
For more business advice visit WOMO.com.au