As an entrepreneur who is passionate about your business, one of the hardest things to handle can be negative customer experiences. However, it is vital to prepare for these occasions ahead of time, as the right response can convert an angry customer into a happy, lifelong client. There are four types of negative customer reaction scenarios: in-person interactions, online reviews, social media, and word-of-mouth.
Dealing with a bad customer experience in-person is the most difficult scenario to manage with poise, especially when your customer is filled with rage. However if you are able to provide outstanding customer service in the moment, you can save a relationship and prevent any damage to your business’ brand. To effectively deal with client relationships gone sour, you need to adhere to the following rules:
- Change your thinking. Once you see a customer is dissatisfied, your first priority is to put yourself in a customer service mindset. In this mindset, your sole objective is to discover the cause of the problem and present a solution. Put aside all feelings you may have about the situation. Whether the customer is giving you unfair criticism or personally made a mistake is not of importance.
- Be an active listener and resist the urge to correct the problem immediately. This can lead to a rushed and inaccurate conclusion. Instead, let your client explain the situation in detail, paying careful attention to not interrupt. Do not make the mistake of planning your response out in your head. After the customer is finished, repeat the problem back and address any possible misunderstandings.
- Apologize and present a solution. Be empathetic by presenting positive body language and qualifying the client’s concerns. If the customer is still dissatisfied, ask what might resolve the situation. Do whatever is within the range of reasonable possibility to rectify the issue.
Negative online reviews, especially ones that are particularly malicious, are the cause of many entrepreneurs’ nightmares. This is because nine out of 10 people read reviews online before giving a company their business. There are two types of negative reviews: factually incorrect reviews and factually correct reviews.
If the statement is false, you can try to have the comment retracted or removed from the site. This may seem simple in theory, but in reality, comment removal can be difficult. You need to present concrete, indisputable proof. Without it, you will fail in getting comments removed from most sites.
If the statement is true, honestly present your story on what happened and state that you plan to address the situation. Then, contact the customer privately. If he or she is a real client, you should have a phone number or email. Keep the details of how you rectified the situation if you are concerned people will abuse your customer service.
In addition to the previous tips, here are a couple social-media specific suggestions for preventing and mitigating damage from possible negative reviews:
- Don’t allow people to post on your company’s Facebook page. Most businesses turn off the function that enables user comments. However, make sure you only disable original posts and not the comment section. Your brand should be the outgoing voice of your Facebook page. If there are negative posts, respond to them in the comment section.
- Create a comment policy. Make it your New Year’s Resolution to form a comment policy, adding it to all your company’s social media profiles. Define the type of language that is unacceptable, such as profanity.
- Create a positive customer experience by connecting with your clients. If you’re most involved on social media only when something goes astray, then you’re doing it wrong. Use social media to respond to your customers and answer their questions, as well as address problems. Demonstrate to the world that you care what your customers think.
Word-of-market marketing is the newest trend in business, though its roots are found in old-school customer service. Don’t be hesitant to ask happy and loyal customers to give your company a good word, as it helps dispel the effect of other customers’ negative experiences and reviews. One effective way of doing this is to provide monetary compensation to employees who ask customers to leave an online review. Have your employees provide customers with a phone or tablet, right then or there. Truly satisfied customers will be happy to oblige.
Once a problem is resolved, ask the customer to remove his or her negative review. Negative reviews don’t go away on their own. If you correct the situation, politely ask the client to update the comment. This won’t work with all people, as some customers can’t be consoled. However, it never hurts to ask.