Negative reviews are often cringe, but they present opportunities to build brand reputation and customer loyalty. The art of turning negative reviews into positive ones is vital for navigating today’s business world.
Some 63% of customers have never gotten a response to a negative review from a business, but countering a negative review is always worth it for businesses. 53% of customers believe a business should respond to negative reviews within a week, and nearly as many say doing so can sway them to visit a business.
There are many different ways to turn a negative spotlight into a positive one. In many cases, you may not succeed in changing the customers’ minds, but you can use the opportunity to win the hearts of other visitors.
In this guide, we’ll examine three of the most powerful methods to turn a negative review into a marketing and branding opportunity.
Appreciate the Reviewer
First, you need to embrace the opportunity. Take it in your strides and respond gracefully. Let the reviewer and everyone else know that you’re always happy to listen to all your customers regardless their opinion. You may not like what they say, but it’s still something to celebrate because they’re just one of a few people who’ve bothered to drop a line on your business.
Besides the time and effort they’ve invested in you, thank them also for helping you identify and address your areas of weaknesses. Chances are you’ll learn a thing or two about how to improve your business from negative reviews.
What’s more, thanking them also encourages further conversation, increasing the likelihood of an amicable resolution. When the reviewer realizes that you’re very interested in what they have to say, they’ll be more forthcoming and willing to work things out.
When responding, try to make it as personalized and heartfelt as possible. Address them by their name or moniker if possible. Try to include some details about their individual experience to further prove that you’re not just giving out some generic response. For instance, you can mention a thing or two about the specific product or service they used, or the representative they interacted with.
Here is a good ‘Thank you’ template for a head start:
“Hi (name), thank you for trying out our product and leaving a review. We’re sorry you couldn’t find all the features you were looking for in our product, but we’re not taking this lying down. The Basic package is only an entry-level membership to help you get a feel of our main premium products. We’re seriously considering adding more features to improve on our basic package, but in the meanwhile why not consider upgrading to access those features plus more?”
Engage with the Customer Offline
Sometimes, it’s difficult to have a detailed conversation with a reviewer on the review site. Try inviting them offline for further conversation. Give them an email address or a phone number as well as the detail of the person who’ll be handling their case.
This not only opens up a more convenient channel of communication, it also proves that you take your customer’s complaints seriously.
Also, some customers prefer to just dump a negative review and move on rather than wait on a long-winding dispute resolution. Encourage them to use the proper channels for redress by promising it’ll be fast and easy.
If the customer has already passed through customer care and is still not satisfied, promise to review their case one more time if they return to the proper care channels.
Also, taking them to a private discussion also helps avoid interference from third parties, keeping the case isolated and contained. They’ll be less likely to join other disgruntled customers in lambasting your product or services, stopping their negative comment from spiraling into a ‘me too’ thread.
Here’s a great example of how to take a complainant offline:
“Hi (name), we’re deeply worried about your negative experience, and we’d like to open a full investigation. Could we please chat on Facebook, Twitter, or your preferred channel? You can also reach our on-site manager at (email) or (phone number). We’d like to know exactly how you ended up with a defective product and find ways to appease you for all the disappointment.”
Here’s another one:
“Hi (name), thank you for pointing that out to us. We’re truly sorry you’re having an unpleasant experience with our product. While we always strive to ensure that all our products meet the highest quality standards, some oddities do prop in our production line now and then. We’d like to know exactly why this specific product fell short of expectation. Could you please provide us with more details of your experience so we can prevent it from happening again? Please talk to our product manager at (email) or (phone number). We’re looking forward to hearing from you. Thanks once again for trying us out!”
Understand Your Reviewer and Do Something About It
After thanking the reviewer and inviting more conversation, they’ll be more likely to provide feedback filled with valuable insights. It up to you to take those insights and convert them into a viable action plan that’ll improve your business and minimize the chances of hearing the complaints again.
It could be quite challenging to keep a level head and glean useful information from a comment that’s laced with disheartening words, but it’s better to listen and learn something rather than discarding the comment entirely.
If something isn’t clear to you, don’t be afraid to ask for more details. Ask questions like ‘what type of material would you like for your car seat cover?’ or ‘How exactly did your skin react to our makeup?”
Next, tell the customer exactly what you’ll do to improve their experience, and then do it. If there was no clear information about a specific feature or product on your site, update it immediately so others won’t fall for the same misrepresentation. If they were concerned about any particular aspect of their buying experience, find a way to fix it.
Fixing the issues will most likely get your customers to change their minds and update their reviews accordingly.
And don’t let them wait too long to see the improvements. Respond to their reviews as quickly as possible then apply the changes in the heat of the moment. If you let things cool off before the changes arrive, you may lose the window of opportunity to get the clients to revise their comments, as they may have moved on to something else.
A negative review isn’t necessarily a truth bomb that damages your reputation – it can actually serve a springboard for your business. You just need to master the art of turning negative reviews around.
We’ve shown you three rock-solid techniques that you can always count on to counter negative reviews. First, you need to see it for the opportunity it is, and then let the customers know their complaints are being taken seriously. If possible, use a private communication channel to work things out with the reviewer, and take responsibility to make sure the complaints don’t reoccur.