Negative reviews are a small business owner’s nightmare. Every business gets complaints, but that doesn’t mean yours has to suffer. Read on to learn the best practice for handling bad reviews and turning them into opportunities.

Negative reviews are a small business owner’s nightmare. Every business gets complaints, but that doesn’t mean yours has to suffer. Read on to learn the best practice for handling bad reviews and turning them into opportunities.

Respond Promptly

When you receive a bad review, it might be tempting to ignore it and hope potential customers don’t notice. This won’t work. Address the complaint as soon as you become aware of it, and others will see your business in a better light. Consumers understand that every business receives criticism, but when they look at reviews they are looking to see how severe the problem was and how the business responded. Ignoring complaints or waiting more than two weeks to respond looks bad.

Responding promptly also increases the chance you can remedy the situation for the disappointed customer – sometimes bad reviewers edit their reviews if they feel their complaint was sufficiently addressed and the problem corrected.

Take The Complaint Seriously

Employees can take experiences with whiny, angry customers and turn them into jokes amongst themselves. But bad reviews should not be taken lightly. As a small business owner, it is important to take complaints seriously because they can negatively impact your business.

Unsolved bad reviews are detrimental to the success of your business in the online world. It is no secret that more and more customers look at a business’ reviews before they consider making a purchase, so it is important to make sure they see good responses.

Sometimes, a complaint can be easily fixed by a sincere apology, but sometimes they are more complex and need more attention. Make sure to give each bad review the consideration and effort to remedy that’s due.

Address The Issue Privately But Post Publicly

Just as you would never argue about personal relationship problems in public, you should never carry out business relationship discussions online.

Acknowledge their bad review wherever it is located so potential customers can see you care, but prompt the reviewer to contact you directly so you can address the issue. Communicating through phone or email allows for more lengthy discussion.

Personalize Your Response

Understand as much as you can about the customer who complained. Use empathy and try to see the problem from their perspective. Look up their order information and talk to employees involved. Doing this will help you better determine what course of action will satisfy the reviewer’s issue.

If you can talk to them on the phone, they will feel better about the situation than if you just paste a generic, automated response. Use their name and talk to them as a person rather than a faceless buyer. This goes a long way for customers who feel slighted.

Create and Follow a Complaint Policy

No matter how small your business is, you should implement a complaint policy. If you haven’t experienced it yet, research best practices and templates. If you have, consolidate what worked and what didn’t work into a policy for future complaints and bad reviews. Create possible scenarios and good examples of initial responses that can be replicated. Train employees to use your policy and update it as new unique situations arise.

Learn From The Experience

Not only will you (and your staff) have gotten experience dealing with a frustrated and disappointed customer, but that complaint is an opportunity for your small business.

Take a look at what specifically caused the complaint and work hard to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Unfortunately customers rarely point out mistakes or flaws in your business operation unless they’ve had a negative experience themselves, but think of bad reviews as a spell check function. Those squiggly red lines tell you where you’ve made a mistake and show you how to write better. Bad reviews and complaints do the same for your business.

Every business receives bad reviews, but the real indicator of a good business is how it responds to problems.


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