Negative feedback is inevitable. It happens to even the best and most well-intentioned business owners. So what do you do when you receive it on your website?
Negative feedback is everywhere: maybe you’ve received a scathing message via your website’s contact form. Or a disgruntled customer left a less-than-flattering comment on one of your blog posts. Perhaps someone decided to rant about your business on social media. Maybe it’s just a troll.
On the flip side, perhaps the reviewer had a particularly unpleasant experience with your brand. Or they’ve had certain unmet expectations. They could also be merely echoing undeserved negative hype about your business.
But regardless of what the criticism is about – within reasonable limits, of course — how you handle it is critical. It’s easy to coast by on good customer reviews. Negative feedback, however, can be a stronger determinant of your online reputation.
Our Dallas online marketing company is no stranger to criticism. And here we’ve got a few tips to help you handle negative feedback of your own:
1. Take a step back.
This is the hardest step to make, to separate yourself from the defensive, knee-jerk retort that comes up as soon as you see a bad review of your business. But it’s necessary. Think of it as giving yourself some wiggle room first so you can plan your next move.
2. Determine the possible intent.
Not all negative feedback needs a response. Some are urgent and valid, and some are simply trolls or attention-seekers. One good question to help you discern legitimate criticism from trolls is, “If I were in that critic’s place, would my feedback help improve my business in the long run?”
3. Vent elsewhere first. Or not at all.
If the criticism is valid but vitriolic enough to make you feel like retaliating, don’t. Instead, find another activity and venue for letting out steam first before responding, preferably offline. An equally pointed retort may win you the battle, but in the long run it may damage your online reputation.
4. Check your ego.
When reasonably negative feedback riles you up to distraction, it may be an ego issue on your part. Reevaluating your own triggers may be hard, but it’s necessary. A good number of people who take the time to send feedback don’t intend to ruin your business; chances are, they only want to be heard. So it’s not always about you, but about the customer’s needs.
5. Deflect, defer, defuse.
It helps to defuse your critic’s emotional triggers by deferring to them, that is, acknowledging their feedback as valid. When appropriate, you can also apply a little humor at no one’s expense. This will help you deflect more negative feedback.
6. Stay kind and professional.
Most of the time you just need to bite the bullet and stay objective. Being kind doesn’t mean being a pushover. It only means that you’re professional enough to address a situation in a way that will benefit both the complainant and your enterprise. After all, if you were the one with a complaint, you’d want the recipient to hear you out with the same respect as they give those who praise them.
7. Offer solutions whenever possible.
Action is key. If the complaint can be fixed by you and your team, let the other person know promptly. If not, offer another reasonable way to make up for the customer’s negative experience. At the very least, offer an honest apology for the inconvenience.
8. Keep it concise and classy.
When responding to negative feedback, a brief but meaningful response is key. Long-winded explanations will only view your reader and annoy your complainant even further.
9. Thank them.
They took enough time to patronize your business, long enough to share their reviews. And this can be your ultimate ally in improving your brand. Communicate your appreciation clearly and sincerely.
10. Use it as motivation.
Negative feedback provides business owners a unique opportunity to improve their business processes and online reputation. Keep your share of criticism as a reminder of where and how you can provide better services and products to your market.
There are other ways by which you can honestly turn around negative feedback into a positive situation for you and your business. At the very least, we can help you turn it into a positive online reputation – contact us now to find out more.