Experience has taught me that in order to address a complaint effectively, you must be informed and prepared with an action plan. In the heat of a “he said she said” battle, it’s hard not to get wound up on false accusations. It feels good to spout off “LIAR! THAT’S NOT WHAT HAPPENED AND YOU KNOW IT!” but, after the heat of the moment has worn off, strangers come and see your response and judge you by how you respond.
So how should you respond to feedback? Well before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s first talk about preparedness.
Know Where You’re Visible Online:
Next: How should you respond?
My mother always advised that you should never do or say anything that you didn’t want featured on the front page of the New York Times. I think this sage advice applies here too.
Here are a few tips for how to respond to negative reviews:
Don’t forget to thank people for leaving positive reviews!
One of the easiest customer engagement techniques that I see companies fail to do time and again is THANK the customer for taking the time to share their experience.
Here are a few tips for responding to positive reviews:
One of the largest barriers to people leaving reviews is that they aren't a 'member' of the channel you want them to leave a review on. If you can get them to follow you on that channel, you have a greater chance of getting them to take action.
For instance, if they requested service with a Gmail address on your contact form, you know that they can easily leave a Google review. You might leave in your email signature a quick link for them to "leave a Google review".
Pro-tip: Did you know Google finally fixed that annoying “no direct url to leave a review” thing? Now, if you manage your “Google my Business profile” you can customize it. See? https://g.page/StraTacMarketing/review
If in your customer service interactions you ask customers follow you on Facebook, you can make a blanket request to your audience to 'share your experience with ______, we value your feedback!"
When you phrase it as “feedback”, rather than 'review' you open yourself up to being able to take intel from the information those people share. Also, it keeps you from violating the rules against “requesting reviews”.
Remember, this is a great way for you to capture the voice of the customer so you can make business decisions based on true customer feedback.
Reviews, regardless of whether they’re good or bad, should always* be answered. I asterisk always because sometimes, you can’t “hug your haters” without inflaming more upset. But in general, you should never leave a bad review alone. When you do, it gives the impression that the company doesn’t care about problems or complaints from customers. When you reply to positive reviews it often encourages more people to leave reviews and prompts interactions with the brand, knowing that they are going to be heard.
To remedy a bad review I suggest a response following some guidelines:
If negative, choose whether the post needs sympathy or an apology. Not every complaint is valid, not every error requires an apology. Whichever you choose, always be authentic, but be professional and polite. If you can, without causing harm to the business, offer to help or to mend things. (Customers will notice that you strive to provide great service.) Keep your response short and clear. Say just enough to provide closure.
When it comes to fake reviews, these are typically from people who are upset with a business or person - sometimes they give themselves away in the details. You can reach out to them personally if you have their contact information, and ask them how you can help adjust their experience so that they may reconsider their statements. But the bad news is that sometimes vendors (like Yelp) like the drama, and will elevate negatives (which are fake or duplicates) over positives (which are valid) in hopes you’ll purchase advertising from them. It’s crummy but true.
In all cases, you’ll want to try to use your best manners, try to accept responsibility where necessary, and think "How would my grandmother feel receiving this response?".
At the end of the day, we’re all emotional people and we all have our biases and goals. Sometimes they get stunted inadvertently or on purpose by other businesses, we just have to take the high road and aim to deliver the best customer experiences to avoid these problems if at all possible.