How to handle negative reviews as a small business owner, start up or charity

Running a business/organisation and reviews come hand in hand. It doesn’t matter whether you are a charity, salon, mechanic or taxi service, at some point you will encounter a negative review from a disgruntled customer/ supporter. Bad reviews happen to all local service providers so don’t feel bad about it, it was only a matter of time. In truth this is a great opportunity to reflect on your business and use the opportunity to improve your service and prevent the likelihood it may occur in the future. 88% of customers will read a business's reviews to determine the quality of a business. Having a bad review will tarnish your authority and deter customers from using you in the future. Below are a few tips to contain the damage and they might even result in the disgruntled customer coming back to use your service.

Respond to the issue

The best place to start is to identify how the problem was caused. Was it a technical issue, third party or quality related? Once you know what caused the issue, you can respond to the disgruntled customer to let them know you have listened to their complaint and are currently taking steps to resolve the issue so it does not happen again. You want to respond to your reviews in 1 or 2 days. We recommend asking them to contact you privately in regards to the response to get more detailed information and provide compensation, if required.

Put yourself in your customers shoes

When you reply to your disgruntled customer, you want to put yourself in the customer's shoes. How would you feel if you were them? Your answer should be empathic so the customers know you attempted to understand the issue that caused them distress. Apologise for how they feel and demonstrate that you genuinely want to resolve the issue. In most situations, customers just want their complaint to be acknowledged. You will also want to thank them for taking the time to leave you a bad review - yes thank them for negative feedback. Any feedback is good for your business, them taking the time to inform you why they are upset allows you to improve your business in the future. If your business has genuinely made an error, you might want to offer them compensation. Compensation often quickly resolves the issue but you also do not want to encourage other people to complain and leave negative reviews.

Don’t take it personally

You have put a lot of time and effort into running your business and hearing a negative review can be difficult to hear. However, this isn’t directed at you. It is simply one experience a customer had at one time when they encountered or used your service. There are millions of bad reviews online, and some people take pride in putting down others. One bad review will not deter customers, many negative reviews stating the same issue will deter customers as it shows you made no effort to rectify the issues.

In conclusion

Bad reviews happen to everyone at one time or another. It is important to not take it personally, and remember it is just one persons experience of your business or service at one time. Use it as feedback from customers to improve your business and use it as a way to highlight your great customer service with understanding and fast responses.