Complaining customer in a restaurant

Now and then all businesses run up against the challenge of a negative review or two because of a dissatisfied customer. It’s only natural that not everyone will be pleased every single time. Needless to say that’s what we shoot for, but the fact is that at some point you’re going to need to cope with a disappointed customer who has decided to leave their opinions online.

What can be helped is the way you respond to an unhappy customer. Developing a clear plan to take care of the occasional negative review is a must for any business seriously interested in its long-term survival. Let’s take a look at several ways you can minimize the impact of poor reviews, and indeed, turn them into a positive for all concerned.

5 Ways to Turn a Negative Review into a Positive

Don’t fight back! – However much you want to defend yourself and your company, make sure you suppress the desire. It never works. You’ll never be viewed in a positive light. Alternatively, take responsibility and use this opportunity to demonstrate 5 star customer service.

Be sure to answer immediately – If you’re wanting to cultivate poor reviews and reputation, make sure you ignore or take forever to respond to customer complaints. It’s a sure way to lose! Set up a Google Alert to monitor mentions of your business on social media so you can be aware of any emerging issues before they become big.

Apologize and make amends – No one wants to hear a bunch of lame excuses, or even legit ones. Offer a sincere apology for their experience, and generously offer a way to make it up to them. Doing this with sincerity will go a long way toward turning a frustrated customer into a happy one.

Be transparent – Standing up and taking responsibility for your mistakes makes you look very good in the eyes of other customers who are watching. And they are watching!

Get more reviews – One of the greatest ways to minimize the effect of a negative review is by drowning them with far more positive reviews. Constantly make it your business to request reviews from your customers, particularly regulars who will want to have your back.

Here’s a true story of Poor Service Properly Addressed…

I the last 60 days… I had a most unpleasant experience with a vendor. They promised to wrap up a custom programming (website) project within a 7 day period. They dropped the ball in a M-A-J-O-R way. I made several attempts to communicate with the owner via Skype, but he was completely unresponsive. (Can I tell you… the steam was coming out of my ears?)

Finally, I got a hold of him on Skype. He wanted to resolve the technical issue, but really wasn’t addressing the poor service issue where they had dropped the ball. He had a number of things on his to-do list (just like myself), and didn’t want to be deterred by my rant of frustration.

What it boiled down to was… he thought the issue had been handled by his team (when it hadn’t). Once he understood where his team dropped the ball, he apologized with this response:

how to turn negative reviews into a positive

It was only after I felt his sincere apology that I was ready to address wrapping up the technical issue being resolved. Customers and clients need to feel like you value who they are as a whole. Not just their financial investment.

If you want to build a trustworthy brand in today’s marketplace, it’s critical that you pay attention to customer/client feedback on both sides. Your clients will tell you how you’re doing. If you pay attention, and respond in a way that demonstrates you really care about their concerns… you’ll be rewarded with customer loyalty and sustained revenue and profits.

I’d like to hear your thoughts. Business owners… do you have a systematic process for handling negative reviews? Do the people on your team know what that process is and follow it?

For everyone… we all buy products and services. What was the most recent example of great service you received? Which company and who was the service professional? I’d love to hear the stories of 5 star customer service. (If you have a negative story… please leave the name of the company/person out (just as I did above).)

I’m looking for your comments below.