In business today there are many nuances a store owner must know in order to keep the customers coming in. One of those nuances is digital marketing and the impacts of your online brand. For instance, negative reviews can severely impact your business—and you just got one. Now what?
FCNews spoke with flooring retailers and marketers about the steps you need to take when it comes to dealing with negative reviews, how to prevent them and how to learn from them.
- How can I prevent negative reviews?
While there is no sure-fire way of preventing a dissatisfied customer from venting about their experience with your company online, there are ways to ensure you’re keeping your customers satisfied.
For experts like Chris Ogden, communications specialist at QFloors, it all boils down to listening. “If you view customers as true partners, you value their insights and feedback and recognize you can achieve more and travel further as a team,” she explained. “The relationship is an ongoing conversation and a collaborative relationship—not a single transaction. If you view customers as a one-time business transaction, anything they say is seen as a disconnected and separate incident and carries less value.”
Some ways in which QFloors keeps the communication between customer and company going is by utilizing a QFloors Facebook group where customers can ask each other, or QFloors employees, questions they may have about the software or the industry in general. The company also hosts a User Conference every other year that allows customers to voice their opinions on the software and what more the company could do to improve its product/services.
“It makes sense for any company with ongoing customer relationships to set up forums fostering communication, whether it be via a website, social media, conference or any other avenue,” Ogden noted. “People want to communicate with one another, and nowadays they most often look to do that online.”
- How should I handle a negative review?
So, you’ve done your best to satisfy your customers and avoid a negative experience, but you quickly learn that you can’t please everyone all the time. You’re perusing the feedback section on your site and you come across an unhappy customer. (Don’t worry—it’s not the end of the world.) For industry experts and retailers alike, there are tried-and-true ways for dealing with negative reviews. Among them:
- Respond to every review (good or bad)
- Respond in a timely manner
- Call the customer directly
- If the problem is resolved, politely ask the customer to withdraw the complaint or update it
Cathy Buchanan, co-owner of Independent Carpet One Floor & Home in Westland, Mich., follows many of those steps, paying extra attention to how she responds to the review. In her experience, consumers will make a point to read a company’s response on a negative review. “Consumers don’t just simply read the review—they read the reply, especially if it is a negative review,” she explained. “If an apology is needed I not only reply on the social media platform with a sincere apology and then I also call the client to discuss what we can do to rectify the issue and then ask them to revise the original review or follow up with a new review.”
Buchanan is not alone. Sam Locher, vice president of business development and marketing, A.J. Rose Carpets & Flooring in Burlington, Mass., responds to every review his store receives as quickly as possible, making sure to gather as much information as he can regarding the customer’s situation. This way, the customer can feel seen and heard. “Most people reading reviews understand that you are going to get unreasonable customers from time to time, and if you respond in a professional and caring manner it goes a long way,” he explained.
Carole Cross, founder and CEO, Mobile Marketing, stressed the importance of understanding the “why” behind any kind of negative review. She also suggested dedicating one trained person on your team to respond to these reviews to ensure each response is utilizing the same tone and approach.
- Will I recover?
One of the best ways to recover from bad reviews, experts note, can be capturing good reviews. Posts on the Internet are forever, which is why customer reviews—especially Google reviews—are extremely important when it comes to gaining ground as a business.
“You overcome your reputation being tarnished with negative reviews by delivering a better service and fixing the cause, but you also need to make sure you’re capturing all the good reviews,” Mobile Marketing’s Cross said. “Make sure, as a business, you’re being proactive at capturing good reviews. Go get all the good voices so the negative one isn’t standing alone. Unless you’re taking measures to ask customers to leave reviews, typically only people who had a bad experience will leave one.”
- What can I learn from this?
For retailers like A.J. Rose Carpets & Flooring’s Locher, negative reviews are taken as constructive criticism and can be a catalyst for things like process changes or staff training, which have resulted in more business. “I have had a customer tell me that our responses to negative reviews were the deciding factor to choosing us,” Locher explained. “We also had an employee who was influenced to want to work for us because he appreciated our responses.”
Bottom line: What may start out as an uncomfortable and disappointing episode can turn out be a learning experience that benefits the business in the long run. “You can learn where communication or processes might be breaking down,” QFloor’s Ogden said. “You can learn ways that you can improve as a company. [Customers] may have needs that we have not fully recognized and so hearing those allows us to find solutions for them.”