Do's and Don'ts of Responding to Online Customer Complaints
Most small business owners can recall a time that a customer has written a negative review about their business online. When these grievances are aired online, it adds an additional layer of complication, since other customers can see the critique. Although it can be tempting to ignore online complaints, or react angrily, small business customer service matters must be handled delicately. Having a set action plan that you and the rest of your staff can utilize when a negative comment is posted online about your small business will allow you to mend the situation. The ultimate goal is to spare your business’s reputation, while also attempting to resolve the customer’s issue. Check out the dos and don’ts for small business customer service and you’ll be able to resolve these problems easily.
Swallow your pride and say “I’m sorry.” Even if the customer is being unreasonable or isn’t telling the truth, stating that you are sorry they did not have a favorable experience will help repair the relationship.
Again, even if the customer is wrong, starting a back-and-forth argument will only make your business look unprofessional to outsiders. When responding to customer complaints, you may want to fight back, but your business will benefit from offering productive, peace-making decisions.
DO: Have outlined responses ready
Preparing an outline for customer responses will keep you from feeling overwhelmed, or hastily responding to an online customer complaint on your website, social media profiles or online review site. This summary will give you something to work with, and you can tweak it depending on the nature of the complaint.
DON’T: Post the same response to every complaint
Posting the same uniform answer to every customer will make your business seem insincere. Not every complaint will warrant the same response, and the key to improving customer relationships is to make each customer feel valued. Using your outline will help you maintain a professional tone, but personalizing your message will help each customer feel as if you’re trying to resolve their individual issue.
DO: Ask customers to air their grievances with your company before posting online
It can be frustrating for any small business to see a nasty review written about their company, especially when the customer never contacted them about the issue prior. You can’t control what your customers do, but consider posting on your website and social channels about your customer service department. Sharing a short message encouraging customers to contact your company before posting about the issue online may deter them from doing so. The issue will likely be resolved in a more direct way if the customer comes to you personally, and also lessen the amount of online complaints.
DON’T: Ask a customer to remove their review
This is an extremely risky move. While it is understandable that your small business wouldn’t want unflattering posts on your website or other online platforms, some customers may get offended by being asked to delete their comments. If after resolving the customer’s response, they offer to remove their review, you may accept this offer. Asking them to do so may cause more of an issue, so be wary of this.
DO: Encourage happy customers to share their experiences
A good way to master improving customer relationships is to thank your happy customers for their business. They’ll feel appreciated, and when you thank them, also ask them if they wouldn’t mind sharing their testimonial on your website, or serve as a reference to prospective customers. More than likely, they will oblige, and you’ll receive a boost in your business’s reputation!
DON’T: Ignore customer comments
Overlooking these social and review sites won’t help you improve your small business customer service. Your customers will be frustrated after they don’t hear from you, and it will look as if you don’t take their opinions seriously. Replying to customers may seem time-consuming, but it will only benefit your business’s reputation and customer relationships.
Having negative reviews written about your company online can cause a lot of stress. It can seem frustrating to see negative remarks written about your small business, especially when in your perspective, the reviews aren’t factual. By responding to online customer complaints, you’ll repair severed customer relationships, and show people reading the reviews that you care about ensuring your customers have a good experience at your business. Let us know in the comment section below how you respond to your customers online!
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.