Seeing a negative review left about the services you provide or the products you sell might feel like someone has just stabbed you in the heart. The initial reaction of a business owner to the unflattering comments on his operation is to delete and erase them from the memory. But, prudent entrepreneurs willing to develop trustful and respectful relationships with their customers, both current and potential, should resist that natural urge. Instead, they should learn how to handle negative reviews the way that they actually benefit their businesses.
Ignoring negative feedback and removing it is just like escaping from a problem instead of solving it or hiding a big old elephant under the blanket. Pretending like nothing has happened and leaving an unsatisfied customer without any post-service support or explanation will only make the situation worse. Furthermore, depriving him of his right to express his honest opinion will provoke him to spread negative information about your business all over other online resources. But you can’t control the entire Internet, can you?
As an independent proprietor striving to serve more clients, provide high-quality services and ensure great customer experience, you should understand that negative business reviews are just as necessary for building a friendly business environment as positive ones. The way you respond to them and endeavor to eliminate the mistakes that made your client question your expertise and the quality of your products/services says a lot about your operation. It demonstrates your reputability, desire to satisfy the client’s needs and guarantee proper customer support.
That’s why, deleting negative reviews is like missing the chance to talk back to the client, solve the issue and thus increase your rehiring/repurchasing chances, as well as retain the overall business image aimed at prospective customers.
These are 5 other reasons not to delete negative reviews about your business left on your website, under social media posts or on other contractor referral platforms.
1. You want a constructive conversation with the unsatisfied client
Trolls and haters are the bad side of the Internet. They do leave negative comments all the time. And you need to learn to distinguish those in order to remove. However, when you come across a genuine negative comment, you need to start a friendly conversation with your customer to look deeper into the issue and try to help him out.
This is your opportunity to express your version of the events, make the customer feel like you’re really listening to him, fix your mistakes and demonstrate the quality of your services and post-service support. This is an ultimate benefit of negative reviews.
2. Someone may already have seen it
Let’s imagine that someone posted a negative review about your company. You decided to delete it, but did that a few minutes, hours or days later. Then, there’s a high chance that the prospective customer searching for a pro saw that comment. He came back to your website/profile after looking through other similar sites and witnessed that comment disappear.
What will he think? And what will the person who left that comment do? Oops!
3. You get to determine the issue and prevent it in future
Constructive negative reviews caused by the unsatisfactory quality of your services should serve as a call to action for improvement. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s the kick for development, a chance to see what’s wrong and eliminate the core of the issue. For instance, if your client points out that your employee operates in a bad faith, you should totally take this info into account and call that employee for the ‘hard talk’ (no firing right away, though).
In addition to that, by reacting to negative feedback in a respectful, useful tone and ensuring a fix-up, you’ll calm the customer down, make him feel heard and prevent the distribution of negative info about your services all over the web. There’s no need in taking out the dirty linen, right?
4. A few negative reviews make your business look more real
Hiring professionals or buying products online is rather convenient. But, it’s also a trust issue for many. That’s why more than 85% of people who hire/buy online read reviews. A business profile or a website of a company/store/service provider that has zero negative comments will look quite suspicious. The absence of negative reviews makes customers think that:
- the business isn’t real;
- the company tries to hide the low quality of its services and it is not worth dealing with;
- the owner deletes comments regarding his scammy operation to fetch money from the unaware customers.
Thus, a few negative reviews addressed by the business owner or his employer will make his company more trustworthy. My point might sound a bit counter-intuitive. But let’s be honest: when something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
5. It’s your chance to show off your customer services
First of all, a negative comment pointing out to the defects of your services/goods is the reason to get back to the client and offer him free troubleshooting assistance. This way you’ll get a second chance to win back that customer’s trust, provide the services he deserves and reassure prospective clients in the high level of your company’s customer support.
The polite response to a negative comment caused by a misunderstanding should be considered as an opportunity:
- to keep the unsatisfied customer on your side;
- restore your reputation;
- showcase the way you treat your clients.
Let’s see how that happens in real life and learn a bit about dealing with negative online reviews from experience.
Positive example of handling negative reviews
A few weeks ago I had a chance to talk to Jenna, an owner of a small house cleaning company and she shared her experience regarding handling negative online reviews. One of her customers requested a basic house cleaning, being informed about the list of services included in the basic package, the cost of the cleaning and the amount of time it will take them to tidy her home.
After Jenna’s team of cleaners conducted a general cleaning at that client’s house, she asked them to attempt removing a few stains off the carpet and the couch in her living room. The cleaners explained to her that it’s an add-on kind of service, but she agreed to pay a bit more. When everything was done, the client signed the post-factum satisfactory form, thanked the team and said goodbye.
The next day Jenna was surprised to find a negative review from that client’s husband. He claimed that Jenna’s team of cleaners did a bad job at cleaning his home. He mentioned, that they didn’t clean appliance interiors, didn’t remove mold from the bathroom tile grout and demanded to pay more than they initially asked.
Instead of deleting that unfair comment, Jenna replied to the man in a very respectful manner. She told him that appliance interior cleaning and mold removal are additional services not included in the basic house cleaning bundle. And they informed his wife about that. Regarding the higher cost of the services, Jenna went ahead and explained about the add-on the man’s wife requested. And that was the reason behind the higher bill. Jenna finished by saying sorry for the misunderstanding and asking if the rest of the cleaning was conducted properly. She assured the man that she’ll be glad to provide any further explanations at the customer’s request.
That’s a great example of handling a negative review in a respectful way. By taking a few minutes to reply to the customer’s complaints and comment back, Jenna left a decent proof of the high-quality customer service her company provides, solved the issue and retained the client. Moreover, she let the prospective users understand that this professional values each client and his opinion, works to satisfy the customer’s needs and is always opened to constructive conversation. Furthermore, she prevented the occurrence of similar issues in the future. As after reading that conversation, every prospective client will pay closer attention to the services included in the standard house cleaning bundle and possible additional costs.
To sum everything up, I’d like to encourage business owners to consider negative reviews as an opportunity and respond to them properly. That takes a lot of patience and practice, but it’s totally worth it.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.