As a midsized business, it’s always nice to receive positive comments and feedback so you know what you’re doing right. But criticism and negative feedback are just as useful, sometimes even more so. If you can take a step back and avoid taking negative comments personally, they can also serve as a guide toward greater business success. Being on the receiving end of unpleasant feedback or even insults and attacks can turn out to be the catalyst that helps you build your business. To use them in the most effective manner, follow these five steps for responding to negative comments and diffusing insults and attacks.
- Be Quick to Respond. According to a study conducted by Cone, a Boston communications and strategies agency, 80 percent of all consumers opted not to purchase from or frequent a business due to negative feedback they read on the internet. Review sites such as Angie’s List and Yelp have the power to impact your business positively or negatively depending on the reviews left there by customers. Although you might not be able to stop a bad review, you can respond quickly to avoid it escalating and damaging your business in the process.
- Be Personable and Professional. Respond to negative feedback in a personable and professional manner. Introduce yourself and your title, whether you’re responding online or in-person. Rather than making excuses, acknowledge that you appreciate the person’s words and will convey them to the rest of the team.
- Refrain From Defensive Behavior. When responding to a dissatisfied customer or bad online review, refrain from comments made out of anger or defensiveness. Stooping low in your response only makes the company look worse and may cause the situation to escalate.
- Listen and Take Action. New Jersey-based marketing expert JC Dawkins told Entrepreneur.com that she and her husband decided not to try a new restaurant in the area based upon a horrible review she read online…one that had been left unanswered by the owners. Whether the negative review was warranted or it was left by someone who’s being insulting and attacking for no reason, it’s important to listen and take action to avoid a repeat situation. Ask yourself if there’s a kernel of truth in what’s being said. If so, how can you change things for the better?
- Follow Up. Whenever bad reviews or negative feedback prompt you to make changes in your business it’s important to follow up with the customer to let them know. This gesture of good faith can be the deciding factor that converts an unhappy customer to a happy and loyal one. Take the time to post a follow-up comment or contact the customer via email, by phone or through the mail.
The perceived value of your products and services can decrease significantly based solely upon negative reviews. By responding promptly and in a professional manner, you can diffuse bad reviews and negative comments and turn them into business-building opportunities. Although negative feedback can impact your business, it won’t cause as much damage as your lack of response.
Following these steps shows that you care about your business and how you can best serve your customers.