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4 Ways to Tackle Bad Online Reviews

Years ago, angry customers would send angry letters, then they started sending nasty e-mails - both a fairly private way to complain. Today the whole world is privy to your company mishaps via abrasive online reviews on sites like Yelp! and Google Reviews, among others. Although their correspondence is irate, of course you cannot respond in kind. Take these steps to craft, timely online review responses that smooth ruffled feathers and restore customer satisfaction.

° Personalize your response. A form response—“Dear Customer: Thank you for contacting us …”—will infuriate an already fuming customer. Add a personal touch to let the person know that a real person is handling the situation: “Mr. Jones, my name is Shawn and I will be investigating your complaint.” Customers will often calm down after becoming aware that a real person is in charge.

° Restate the problem. When possible, use the customer’s own words to show that you read the e-mail clearly. Include relevant information— purchase history and the like— to show that you have done a little research. Of course, you may need to ask questions as well. Examples: “I need some more information before I can solve your problem. Was the widget broken when you received it, or did it break during installation?” “Would you prefer to receive a replacement part or a full refund?”

° Outline your plan. Angry customers want action. State how you will resolve the problem, outlining the steps you will take and including a time line when appropriate.

° Don’t bury the good news. Of course, empathy goes a long way. But if you can offer an instant and satisfying solution, begin your message with that: “We have issued a full refund …”and follow up by saying “We regret the inconvenience you experienced.”

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