When your store receives negative online reviews, be thankful, be kind and always respond.

We’ve all been there. The sinking feeling in your gut as you open the notification on your phone that someone has left your business a 1-star review. Your skin gets hot as you finish reading and you don’t know whether to yell or cry. 

Online reviews are abundant, important and require a solid reply. This reviewer has something very specific to say and is taking intentional steps to provide you with feedback. Users today want immediacy, they want to be heard and they want their feelings to be acknowledged. For a negative review, I spend about 30-45 minutes getting my mind right, gathering all the details and drafting a response. I always have another member of the team read it and then we post and monitor.

WHEN RESPONDING, WE FOLLOW THESE TIPS:
  • As hard as it might be, thank them for their feedback. You could go on to express gratitude for giving your team a “training opportunity.”
  • Make sure the response is unrehearsed, authentic and kind.
  • When crafting our response, we focus not only on the commenter, but everyone else that is going to read it over time. Think about having a store full of customers with one having an issue and having to publicly address it. That’s essentially what you’re doing.
  • Empathize with the user and make sure they feel heard, but don’t be overly apologetic. If anything, apologize for not meeting expectations.
  • Even if what they say is just not true, they feel it’s true and anyone reading it will think it’s true, too. Try your best not to correct them publicly as we’ve seen this turn south quickly
  • Use the pronoun “we,” not “I,” to demonstrate a collective reply from your team. Unless the communication is extremely negative, then you might want to pose the response as being specifically from the “highest up” on your team.
  • Don’t instigate, engage. Before hitting “enter”, re-read your statements and see if there is anything that could be considered antagonistic or snarky.
  • Think of this response as your time to shine! We do research on the user before replying to get personal details we can inject into our reply to show others that we create personal relationships and pay attention to detail.

What happens if I do all of this and they come back with an even worse response? We reiterate our position and invite them to resolve the matter through private message. Sometimes, we ask permission to reach out to them so that we can better understand the situation and find out how we can please the guest. Most of the time, this action ends the public conversation but positions you in the best light.

ONLINE EXTRA: TURNING A CUSTOMER AROUND

See how Bremer's is able to turn a negative customer experience into a positive one in the example below.

ASHLEY STEGALL is the marketing coordinator of Bremer Jewelry in Peoria and Bloomington-Normal, IL.


This article originally appeared in the September 2017 edition of INSTORE.

 
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