So, you’ve received a sub-par review from one of your customers… let’s say it’s from Steve Stevenson.

He received one of your products in the mail and it was broken inside the box. Instead of contacting you for a replacement or solution, he’s decided to go on a rant via Facebook, Instagram and Google My Business, mouthing off about your “low-quality products”.

Thanks, Steve.

Real mature.

Customer reviews can make or break your ecommerce business. According to a recent survey from Duct Tape Marketing Consultants, 54% of customers read online reviews before deciding to shop at a new store and even less click through to a website with less than 4.5 stars – 60% of people who read negative reviews choose not to engage with that business.

Needless to say, customer reviews matter… a lot.

Dealing with negative reviews can be rough – so we’ve put together seven steps to responding to reviews, whether it’s on social media, review sites, or Google My Business. Read on – dealing with grumpy customers is about to get a lot easier.

#1. Be reasonable – don’t get mad!

We know how upsetting it can be to get negative feedback. A negative review can knock your confidence down a few pegs and ruin your day, week, or even month – but the important thing to remember when responding to a negative review is to keep it rational and don’t get mad!

Pushing the blame back on the customer is a big no-no. You’re guaranteed to upset the customer further and worse, you’re bound to cause a scene which doesn’t look good for your business.

No one likes an aggressive shopkeeper – especially other customers who read your response. 

#2. Respond to the review ASAP and make sure to sympathise with the customer 

If a customer has posted a seething review online, you need to treat it as your number one priority. Think of a negative review as a wildfire – you want to put it out when it starts and stop the damage from spreading. 

When a negative review appears online, respond as quickly and calmly as possible – this minimises potential damage to your reputation, plus you’re showing your overall commitment to customer service and satisfaction. 

Here are a few tips to help guide your response:

  • Apologise and show empathy, even if you know you’re in the right.
  • Don’t make excuses – it won’t fix the problem and you’re probably going to upset the customer more. Own up to the problem or mistake and accept responsibility.
  • If their complaint is legitimate, assure the customer it won’t happen again.
  • Offer some sort of solution – offer to discuss the issue further in private, offer a replacement, a refund, or even a discount. Give them an option and give yourself a chance at redemption. 

#3. If necessary, try moving the conversation offline

If you’re feeling proactive and want to make a good impression on future shoppers – but also want to save your butt online – consider moving the conversation offline. 

Provide contact details for someone at the business so the customer can discuss the problem in person, over the phone or even via email.

For example, you could say, “Hi there, I’m very sorry to hear you’ve had a negative experience with us! I’m the owner of the business and I’d love to discuss this further with you – please contact me at [phone number/email address]”. 

This adds a personal touch to your response and gives the customer a golden opportunity to talk about their experience in more depth. The customer can help you learn from your mistakes, or you can alleviate the problem and achieve some closure.

#4. Sprinkle a little marketing magic into your response

There’s no skirting around it – the customer must have had a reason for engaging you in the first place. 

Whether it’s your massive range of products, affordable prices, or the (previously) glowing reviews across social media and forums, you must have convinced the customer to check out with you somehow – so why not reiterate your strengths when responding to their review? 

When writing up your response, explain what customers usually experience when shopping with you. For example, you might say “we’re normally very vigilant with our shipping practices and our customers benefit from our attention to detail – I’m very sorry we missed the mark this time.”

In doing this, the customer knows what kind of service and customer experience you normally offer. Plus, future customers who read the review will know this unfortunate occasion was a once-off, increasing your chances of luring them over to the dark side (i.e. your checkout). 

#5. Keep it short and sweet (KISS method) 

If you want to avoid further trouble with a cranky customer, the best method is to keep it simple, stupid! Otherwise known as the “KISS” method, you need to keep your responses short, sweet and simple – don’t go into too much detail and avoid asking questions.

Opening a dialogue with the customer is essential, but asking questions about their experience opens a can of worms you don’t want to be spread all over the internet.

For one, you could upset the customer further by questioning their experience and two, you’re giving the customer the opportunity to add more negative feedback to a very public display. 

Image: GIPHY

Rather than probing for more details about the incident, try and keep your response short – around three sentences is a safe amount

#6. Make sure to respond to fake reviews, too

Did you know some people get paid to leave negative reviews online? 

Whether it’s a malicious competitor looking to knock your success down a few pegs or make you look bad online, negative reviews can be bought in bulk and if written well enough can do a lot of damage to your online reputation.

Here are a few characteristics to look out for:

  • Their complaints lack detail. If their comment seems general or vague, it could be fake.
  • The reviewer leaves a one-star review but no comment.
  • Their name doesn’t seem legitimate.
  • The review has tonnes of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. 

Naturally, most directories and review sites frown upon fake reviews. For example, you can report and/or flag fake or negative reviews on Yelp under your business profile, or you can report illegitimate reviews via Google My Business for removal.

Learn more about removing negative or fake reviews on Yelp, Google, and Facebook!

#7. Learn from your mistakes 

If you’ve been getting lots of negative reviews about the same thing – whether it’s mediocre product quality, slow customer service, or expensive shipping – it might be time to face the facts.

It’s not them, it’s you. 

Learn from the feedback you’re getting from your customers. Spend some time working through the issues and come up with proactive solutions to help improve your customer experience – for example, you might want to provide some additional customer service training to your team, make your product and brand descriptions clearer, and reduce your shipping costs.

You might even consider updating your website design to be faster and more responsive, so your customers don’t have to wait around or go digging to find the item they’re looking for.

Think of a negative review as a learning curve!

Manage your online reputation – respond to negative reviews and watch your customers increase 

Getting negative reviews is heartbreaking. However, the fallout from a negative review can be even worse.

In 2019, customers are doing their research before making a purchase. With the rise of social media and social proof, customers can learn a thing or two about your business before even clicking onto the website.

It’s essential to manage reviews – both good and bad – as soon as they appear to manage your online reputation. By jumping on a negative review as soon as it’s posted, you can manage the impact and show future customers how you, as a business owner, cope when things go wrong.

Responding to reviews quickly and calmly shows your dedication to maintaining great customer service… and who wouldn’t want to shop with a caring business owner?

Another tip for avoiding negative reviews – offering unbelievably fast shipping. 

Keep your customers happy and avoid negative reviews – check out our collection of speedy couriers and get in touch with Transdirect