Dealing with negative customer reviews

Reviews are an important part of online businesses.  Some are positive, occasionally humorous, but how do you deal with the genuine negative ones?
Dealing with negative customer reviews

Don't Avoid It

If you understand SEO* then you’ll appreciate how getting customer reviews for your products or services is important to your business.  But no matter how well you think you’ve done, there’s always one customer who insists on leaving a bad review.
When you do receive a bad review, you must prepare yourself to respond to it in a positive way.   Ignoring it is not an option. Your response to any negative comments will be viewed by potential customers and may help you win new business.

* Search Engine Optimisation

Find Out What Went Wrong

To turn the negative into a positive, you need a better understanding of what went wrong.   If you weren’t directly involved, ask whoever was to explain what exactly happened.   This way you can respond to the unhappy customer knowing the real situation.

Don't Use Excuses

Your customer doesn’t want to hear that you were short staffed, busy or didn’t have time to read their email.  Excuses can lead to an escalation of the situation.  They do, however, want to feel listened to.  Always start with an apology, for example,  
“We are very sorry that xxx and we want to rectify this”.

Make Peace

Thank your customer for taking the time to write a review.  Also, let them know that you value them.   Resolving the issue may cost you money in the short term (by offering discounts, replacements or gift vouchers), but it will also show future customers that you value them.

Repeated Complaints

Different customers, same complaints?  If the focus of the complaints is on the same issue, you should address the underlying problem.  For instance, repeated complaints about unhelpful staff may indicate a need for better staff training.

Disputing the review

If the negative review includes: threats of violence, cursing, pornographic content, adverts, spam or comments related to a persons race, ethnicity, religion, gender, disability or sexual orientation, most sites will remove the rating.  You will need to flag or report the review, depending on which site it's from.  You can hide your Facebook ratings, however, this will include the good ratings too.
The best way to 'hide' a bad review is to bury it with better ones.  This, my friends, will be down to you!
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