How to Recover from Bad Customer Reviews and Gain Loyalty

Allianse Writer

Online reviews can boost your sales. But then again, they can also damage your brand reputation. So, what do you do when your business starts getting terrible customer reviews? How do you recover from this mess?

A mishap while providing a service or a product failing can happen to any company. In some instances, the problem may even be beyond your control. Hence, all companies should expect some negative reviews.

At any rate, the most pressing concern is remedying the situation instead of shifting blame. You have a chance to turn the entire case around by addressing those issues. In the end, you might even turn disgruntled people into loyal customers.

Table of Contents

Why Should You Care About Online Customer Reviews?

Gone are the days when buyers could not air their side of the story. Nowadays, it seems that everyone is on one or more social media platforms. For example, in one survey, up to 97% of consumers search for products or services online. For this reason, companies need to have a digital presence.

Benefits of Positive Reviews

  • Customers are likely to spend 31% more on a business with “excellent” reviews. (Invesp)
  • 92.4% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase a product or service after reading a trusted review about it. (G2)
  • About 3 out of 4 consumers trust a company more if it has positive reviews. (Reputation X)

Negative Impacts of Poor or Bad Customer Reviews

  • 94% of consumers say a negative review has convinced them to avoid a business. (ReviewTrackers)
  • In 2021, just 3% of consumers said they would consider using a company with an average star rating of two or fewer stars. That’s down from 14% in 2020. (BrightLocal)
  • Businesses risk losing as many as 70% of customers when four or more negative articles about your company or product appear in Google search results. (Moz)

What Tools Can Help Find Negative Reviews About You?

At least 4 out of 10 consumers who expressed dissatisfaction on social media expect a response within 60 minutes. If they complain in channels you run, your team should see and respond. But what if they posted elsewhere?

Fortunately, there are cloud-based software solutions that find chatters about you. These are full-featured social media management tools that also have social monitoring capabilities.

1. Zoho Social

Zoho Social is one of the top social media management platforms. It empowers businesses and agencies with powerful publishing tools, including:

  • Publishing Calendar
  • Bulk Scheduler
  • Repeat Post

2. Sprout Social

Sprout Social provides a complete social management solution. This software empowers users to do more on their social media strategy, such as:

  • Connecting better with audiences
  • Streamlining publishing workflows
  • Collaborating in real-time
  • Turning social data into meaningful insights

3. Hootsuite

For many years, Hootsuite has helped enterprises manage their social media platforms. Its goal is to help you build your brand and strengthen customer relationships. Among its tons of features are:

  • Schedule posts across many social networks
  • Manage organic and paid social content
  • Keep track of customer conversations

What Should You Prepare for to Find a Negative Review?

Audit your channels before you look for those negative reviews. Begin by checking your NAP (name, address, and phone) data on all directories. Also, be sure to keep your Google My Business account updated. At the same time, review it in its entirety – from messaging to imagery – and make appropriate changes.

In case you have not done so, claim your business on social media sites, including but not limited to:

  • Google My Business
  • Yelp
  • Amazon
  • The Better Business Bureau
  • Facebook

Aside from the platforms mentioned above, there may also be other relevant sites. Usually, these would be niche-specific review platforms. So, be sure to audit them as well.

How Do You Manage and Recover from Bad Customer Feedback?

Despite the commitment to deliver the best customer experience, not all will be happy. Here are the things you can do.

1. Track Feedbacks and Reviews

Everyone wants positive feedback. But there may also be unhappy customers posting negative comments.

No one wants a bad review, let alone expect one. But being proactive and using all means to find them as soon as they appear gives you time to respond.

Come to think about it. You should be monitoring all mentions and reviews of your brand. Such a measure lets you tune in to what your customers feel. And using what you learned from them, you could tweak or enhance your products and services.

At any rate, you can use Google Alerts to track mentions of your brand. Even better, use one of the suggested social monitoring and management tools.

Tracking customer feedback and comments is the first step towards appeasing dissatisfaction or anger.

2. Identify the Customer and Apologize

There are two main types of channels where customers can post their feedback. One is channels that you own, such as a Facebook page. The other are channels that you do not own or control.

It does not matter where you find a bad customer review. Once you do, respond promptly – but how?

Call, message, or email if the customer’s contact information is available. This way, you can verify the identity and details of the dissatisfaction.

Now, some companies are evasive. Their response to negative reviews is too defensive or too aggressive. If you feel the same urge, stop. Remember that “the customer is always right.” Even if the customer is being “unreasonable” or “verbally abusive,” let them finish.

Usually, people calm down a little after venting. After the customer has told their side of the story, offer a sincere apology. It is your first attempt to connect with the customer hence do not be patronizing or use empty words. Doing so will not improve but rather worsen the situation.

When apologizing, your goal is to show that you care about customer needs. You not only understand their customer complaint but are also willing to resolve the dissatisfaction.

3. Review the Problem and Offer a Solution

Has the customer calmed down (if agitated earlier)? Some details of the problem may not be precise. It is essential to review the issue again to get to the bottom of the problem. 

Once you fully understand the issue, offer a solution to appease a customer. It could be a product replacement or refund. Make the dissatisfied customer feel whole again.

One thing to think about when offering a solution is this. The customer went through a bad experience with your product or service. And so, it is only fitting to give them something “extra” in return as an apology.

Usually, this measure pleases disgruntled customers. As a result, they may even turn out to be your loyal brand supporters in the future.

Businesses can reply to positive and negative feedback on some review sites and platforms. In this case, use this opportunity to show the audience that you care about their experience. Make sure that your public response shows genuine care.

So, by offering a solution to customer complaints, you are taking a step towards recovering from a bad review.

4. Follow Up

After a dissatisfied customer takes you up on your offer to try your products or services again, be sure to take care of them. Be courteous, apologetic, and sincere in making it up.

You can turn around the negative customer experience by taking care of them. If customers are happy, ask them to reconsider updating their reviews. Since it is online, the site audience, including visitors, may see the update. Others who might be checking you out would feel at ease knowing you take care of problems, should there be any.

Can Dissatisfied Customers Become Loyal Customers?

In 1992, Professors Sundar Bharadwaj and Michael McCullough coined the “Service Recovery Paradox.” In essence, it refers to a phenomenon in which a customer who had a bad experience with a business later becomes its dedicated, loyal customer.

A customer complains if your product or service does not meet their expectations. Understanding the risk of negative feedback ruining your reputation, you should be proactive in dealing with this situation:

  • Use social media monitoring tools to track mentions of your brand.
  • If there is a bad review, identify the customer and get in touch.
  • Apologize and get the details of the problem.
  • Offer a solution that not only meets their expectations but exceeds them.
  • Follow up with the customers.

Every business has its share of failures. So, when your value proposition disappoints some customers, only two things may happen.

  1. Either you have no idea about it or are aware of the problem but ignore it. Your reputation takes a hit as more customers complain, especially in public forums such as social media sites and review platforms.
  2. Be proactive and solve customer issues. They would appreciate your gesture if you appease them and provide better than expected solutions. In their minds, your company would belong to one of the few ones that genuinely care about them.

Between the two possible outcomes, the choice is yours. Do you let bad reviews ruin your brand’s reputation? Or, do you take measures to reach out to dissatisfied customers, help, and solve their issues? Remember, the second step leads to enhanced customer loyalty.

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