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My clients often ask about how to respond to customers. Particularly when it comes to online reviews and negative customer comments on social media. Many of them are afraid that this kind of feedback will mar their reputation or scar their brand. My response to these questions might come as a shock, but I tell them to welcome negative comments and reviews.
Why would I do that? Am I crazy or something?
Let me explain…
Have you ever heard the saying “no credit is better than bad credit”? The saying is often used when referring to loans or consumer behavior. The logic of this seemingly absurd comment comes from the predictability of the person with bad credit. If someone has bad credit, you know from the onset how they may handle their bills, responsibilities and the like. You can look through their credit history and see if perhaps they simply hit a bump in the road such as a medical emergency, accident or life circumstance. You could also see if there is a pattern of not making payments over long stretches of time, which may indicate the person is less likely to pay back a loan or line of credit. The information you can gain from a credit history, even a poor one is useful in making a decision regarding the person or business.
Conversely, a person or business with no credit is open to interpretation. Sure, there are other ways you can find out if they’re likely to re-pay a loan or make good on debt. But, without a history of behavior to reference, you’ll be making a gamble either way.
This same logic is true of how a business handles customers. If you receive poor reviews or feedback and you handle it well, other customers will see this and they will immediately know how they will be treated if they have an issue with your business. Because of this, we welcome all types of feedback, questions, reviews and the like. It is in how we respond to these that will make the difference!
Please note: Although we welcome customer reviews, questions, comments and feedback, there is a clear line between “poor” and “abusive”. Poor reviews are ones in which, if not addressed have the potential to make your business look poor or may cause a potential customer to question whether or not to do business with you. An abusive review or comment is one in which a customer is being belligerent, irate or belittling an employee or social media manager. Abusive content should never be tolerated and is not welcome. When possible, delete all abusive content. If you are unable to delete the content on your own such as on Yelp or Google Reviews, report the content to the site.
How to Respond to Customers
Now that you know why it’s important to respond to customers, we’ll talk a little bit about how to respond to customers. The one rule I always tell people is: Always Keep it positive!
This means you always respond in a positive way that makes the other person feel good about the attention they are receiving. In other words, treat people how you’d like to be treated. Especially in business.
What not to do:
- Never get defensive
- Blame the customer
- Deny the situation occurred
- insult the customer’s character
- Disparage your brand or business
All of these things will only do more harm than good and make your brand look bad. Make sure your employees and social media managers are trained on how to respond to these situations should they arise.
Not only do negative responses look very bad, so do responses in which you are over apologizing or saying disparaging things about your company. Making a comment like, “We dropped the ball on that one.” may in your head sound like you’re taking responsibility for the situation, when it actually sounds like you’re incompetent and can’t get your job done. Instead, apologize for the situation and offer a resolution or answer the question at hand.
Something such as, “We apologize this situation occurred and we would love to offer you a coupon for a free/discounted (fill in the blank). We appreciate you bringing this matter to our attention and we will see to it that we make it a priority to ensure this never happens again. We really appreciate you as a customer and hope you’ll give us another chance to prove ourselves in the future. If there’s anything else we can do for you, please contact me personally at (fill in the blank).”
This is a positive response that acknowledges the customer’s feelings and experience, provides a resolution and shows you sincerely care about your business.
You don’t always have to give something away either. That was just one example, customize your response to the situation at hand and your business. The bottom line is, treat people how you want to be treated.
Mandy Davis is the owner of Ingrain Social Media a boutique, digital marketing agency in Bend, Oregon that specializes in digital marketing with an emphasis on social media marketing. Mandy helps clients from all walks of life and industries get their brands found online.