Best Practices for Handling Positive and Negative Reviews of Your eCommerce Store
by Ron Dod
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When it comes to converting window shoppers into loyal customers, there is often one factor that tips the scales: Customer reviews.
While some merchants are wary of the potential pitfalls posed by enabling community feedback, it is a necessity in today’s eCommerce ecosystem. This fact is clearly reflected in studies which show that 91 percent of consumers regularly read reviews and 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from a friend.
Obviously, forgoing reviews is not an option.
Many retailers are terrified of negative reviews, feeling that it could be a death knell for their business. As unfortunate as it is, it is simply impossible to obtain nothing but five-star reviews. Seriously, people give one-star reviews to some of the most spectacular places on earth–places like the Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree National Park.
However, what many eCommerce retailers fail to realize is that negative reviews can be easy to deal with and actually prove to be good for business and an opportunity to attract new customers and advocates.
Bad reviews give you the opportunity to show off your customer service chops in a public setting. And in a world where 97 percent of customers across the globe say that customer service is an important element for brand loyalty, learning to successfully handle negative reviews like an eCommerce champ is an essential skill to possess.
With that said, let’s explore some of the best practices for leveraging negative reviews as a platform for positive engendering brand interactions and customer loyalty (along with a few words on the oft-forgotten positive reviewers).
Respond to Negative Reviews Quickly
When a negative review pops up on your site, the absolute first thing you should do is craft a response. Time is not your friend in these kinds of situations. Speed is of the essence. Also, unless the review is clearly an effort to troll, you must respond. Bad reviews cannot be ignored.
If it is a troll review you have received, the best thing you can do is nothing at all. If you attempt to engage in any way, chances are that you will only make the situation worse as that is the very goal of such comments.
Furthermore, unless the review is a clear attempt to troll your store or uses excessively profane language, it is never acceptable to delete a negative comment. This will most likely result in at least one (probably more like a mob) angry customer, outraged that their feedback has been silenced.
The only way a legitimate bad review might disappear is by addressing it head on and doing something about it.
With time working against you, many are tempted to utilize canned responses. Copying and pasting a generic reply isn’t going to help anything. In fact, it may serve as the antithesis. Address your customer’s rough review in specific terms.
At the same time, you should be monitoring social media and other review websites to ensure the damage doesn’t spread. Platforms like Mention and IFTTT can be invaluable for keeping tabs on such situations. Moreover–as a little side note–these tools don’t just help brands stay in front of a situation, they also help to keep retailers aware of audience sentiment year-round.
Without letting more than a few hours pass after the review goes live, reach out to the customer and take complete ownership of the customer’s unfavorable experience. Most importantly, don’t send them a private message. Do this publicly for your entire audience to see.
Doing this not only displays to the unhappy customer that you are willing to take responsibility for whatever took place, but it also reveals to the rest of your community that you are a considerate business owner who values their customers, accountability and transparency.
Apologize to your customer and let them know you will do what it takes to ensure their experience turns out to be a positive one and that you will correct the problem as soon as possible.
It should go without saying, however–unfortunately–it does need to be said: Don’t be defensive in your response to negative reviews. Resist taking the matter personally and don’t shift blame, make excuses or be combative in any sort of way. This happens more often than you might think.
Simply respond in a humble, polite and apologetic manner.
This shows your audience the type of person they are doing business with–good or bad.
Resolve the Situation
After apologizing to the customer and letting them know that you will rectify the matter, make good on that promise.
Defective product? Send out a new one for free. Malfunction in order processing? Provide a discount code on the order for their troubles. Customer find your product unsatisfactory? Issue a full refund, no return necessary.
If need be, ask the customer what they think an appropriate solution to the issue might be and find a reasonable common ground for the both of you to inhabit.
This is how you create life-long company loyalists–maybe not the unhappy customer (though potentially), but certainly for those who are happy with your offerings and see this glorious display of superior customer service go down.
By not only taking accountability and acting in a transparent manner, but by providing a magnanimous solution, consumers will trust your brand in a much more meaningful way.
This type of interaction lets consumers know that if there is a problem with their order or experience, your company will solve it without making the buyer jump through hoops or be outright ignored.
Remember, however, that following through on your solution is even more important than merely presenting one. Actions speak louder than words, after all.
If, after resolving the customer’s complaint, issues continue to persist, then it is appropriate to move your conversation to a private channel–say, phone or email–so that you and the customer can get more detailed on the problem and the solution. Additionally, doing this shows your customer your dedication to fixing the problem and ensuring that they get what they want.
Follow Up and Request Review Removal
After resolving the customer’s issue, allow a little time to pass to ensure no further hiccups–say, about a week. Once that period has passed, reach back out to your customer but do be cautious as the person might not feel too delighted by your brand. For that reason, timing is of the utmost importance.
When reaching out, ask the customer if the solution has worked out well and if there is anything else you can help them with. Also, be sure to include a polite little request for the user to either remove their review or, better yet, to edit it.
If a customer edits their review from a poor one to a glowing testament of your company’s customer service, this is the best-case scenario. Not only did you just gain a positive review, but the evidence of your stellar service abilities remains for all to see. However, this is not always feasible. In such an instance that you don’t think a customer will be willing to alter their review to reflect a positive sentiment, simply–and kindly–ask them to remove it.
If you have resolved a customer’s issue, in most scenarios, they will be happy to do one of these two things. No matter if the review is removed or edited to reflect a positive outcome, it is a win for your eCommerce store.
But, with all this talk of negativity, you can’t let your positive reviews fall by the wayside either.
Pay Attention to Positive Feedback
Those who sing the gospel of your brand via reviews should be engaged as well as they took the time of day to say something nice about your store.
Say “thanks” and express your appreciation with a quick reply. This shows consumers that you are humble, gracious and a human who appreciates the support.
Furthermore, reinforce the positive aspects of the customer’s review. For instance, if they mention the above-par customer service, reply with something that speaks to the effort your business puts in to that component.
However, do be aware that you won’t want to respond to all your positive reviews in public. That can come off as pandering. Instead, take some time to reach out to customers privately. This can be viewed as a kind and personable gesture that reinforces why that customer chooses to shop with your store.
You can reach out to customers and merely say thanks, or you can even provide them with a one-time coupon, rewarding the kind words they wrote that help your business succeed.
YotPo uses data-driven tools that make it easy to collect customer reviews. With this automated marketing platform, eCommerce stores can collect product reviews and customer ratings using frictionless technology. That means you’ll always have plenty of user generated content to inspire trust and loyalty in your site.
Reviews–both good and bad–should be acknowledged in an appropriate manner. Positive reviewers should be thanked for taking the time to help you out, and negative reviews should be seen as a learning opportunity and a chance to highlight your customer service prowess.
No matter what customers are saying about your brand, there are positive outcomes that can be derived from each scenario. Learn to approach reviews in the manner outlined above, and you can create a loyal following and dramatically increase your store’s revenue.
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Ronald Dod is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder of Visiture, an end-to-end eCommerce marketing agency focused on helping online merchants acquire more customers through the use of search engines, social media platforms, marketplaces, and their online storefronts. His passion is helping leading brands use data to make more effective decisions in order to drive new traffic and conversions.
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