It’s not easy being a business owner. You dedicate your days and nights to managing your store, and you’ve certainly shed your share of sweat and tears to turn your business into a recognizable brand in your industry. Like most days, your alarm buzzes at 6 a.m., you wake up and turn on your computer, you check for any orders that came in overnight, and then you take a look at your Google™ Alerts to see if your brand has been mentioned online anywhere.
And then your nightmare begins. A popular industry blogger posts a letter from an angry customer about your denial of his product return request, stating that consumers should avoid your business. You’re now quickly recalling that customer from the previous week who tried to return an item that was obviously opened and used.
Welcome to the world of online reputation management, where every mouse click has the potential to quickly spread both positive and, unfortunately, negative reviews of your brand. So . . . how should you react? Be C.O.O.L.
“C” Is for Calmness
Your first reaction will be to panic and post an angry, reactionary comment about how outright wrong the customer is. Repeat after me: This will only worsen the situation. Instead, breathe and focus on staying calm. Walk away from your computer and think about the crux of the situation. The customer has an issue with your store’s policy, not with you. Address the root of the problem, rather than the person posting about the problem.
“O” Is for Objectivity
Once your heart rate has returned to a seminormal rate and you’re no longer pacing back and forth, start formulating your reply. Put yourself in their shoes. Is there any way you could have been wrong or a little too hasty? Could the product have been damaged during shipping? Politely reply by thanking them for providing feedback about their customer service experience and then explain that service is your top priority and you’d like to do all you can to address and resolve the issue.
“O” Is for Openness
Be honest and open in your reply. Explain your current policies and why you have them in place. If you discover that the complaint is legitimate, be candid about how you are working on this aspect of your business and explain exactly what you’re doing to correct any issues. Ask for feedback on ways you can take your business to that customer service “wow” level. Include your direct contact information, showing that you’re willing and available to discuss.
“L” Is for Listening
Satisfied with your reply? Post it in the comments field of the blog post and check back frequently for feedback. Listen to readers’ replies. Are they sharing their own customer service experiences? Calmly chime in and interact with them. Think of this as a learning experience for directly engaging with your audience and learning what your business could be doing better.
Then give yourself a pat on the back. You have constructively handled online negative feedback about your business and turned it into a positive learning experience. Start implementing the suggested changes, and share about your business’ positive improvements on your own blog. Now, it’s time to fulfill all those orders coming in!
How have you responded to negative feedback online? If the situation were to happen again, would you respond the same way? If not, what would you do differently?