5 Hater Handling Techniques
It finally happened. You received a negative review of your business online and it hurts. Your business is your livelihood and you have given your life to it, including your passion and your heart. Maybe it was just a “troll,” but more likely it was a genuinely dissatisfied customer. Now what do you do?
Let’s talk about some tried techniques to respond to these haters that will both develop goodwill and respond effectively to their review.
Take time to mull over the attack. Do not respond to any negative review before having time to fully consider their point of view. Responding while you are still angry will further inflame the situation causing even further backlash. Believe it or not, this review is an opportunity to learn something about your customers and how they perceive your company. It can actually be a “good thing” because you’re getting some honest feedback.
Sometimes it’s good to discuss the complaint with mentors or colleagues. They can help decide if your company could do better in the area complained about.
Respond in a timely fashion, but only after you have considered a fair response to a legitimate complaint.
Have a Plan
Being in business it is hard to develop a response for every negative comment that may come about. Most business owners understand there are typical ‘grievances’ that are not necessarily off the mark, just misguided because of the way your business operates. Having a standard answer that can help qualify these complaints in the context of your business will help you combat these negatives whenever and wherever you see them, online or at your location.
Develop a full plan (or script) on how you and your employees should respond to such complaints with a positive comeback. For example, small businesses do not always have access to all the payment methods of large organizations. If you only accept debit or cash, instead of saying ‘sorry its cash or debit only’, you could respond with an answer that builds a relationship such as: “We are sorry to inconvenience you in your payment method choice, but to keep our prices low, we try to avoid extra fees, like those charged by credit card companies.” Develop these type of responses across all your typical grievances to spin them into positives.
Say You’re Sorry and Turn It Around
If you’re in a service industry, you know one soul destroying fact: sometimes you have to capitulate to people, even though they are wrong. Sometimes you just have to say sorry for “their experience.” If there’s something that can be done to fix the problem with this customer, do it and let the world know how you’ve addressed their concern. Otherwise, you can politely point out some customers that did enjoy their experience. In any case, it’s good to let people know you looked into the problem and action was taken (or action was considered).
The potential customers reading your online reviews aren’t stupid. They will be tabulating the pros and cons of your service against what is important to them. It could very well be that your product isn’t designed for certain needs. Thus, it doesn’t matter if customers with incorrect expectations are turned away. Those customers are always going to be dissatisfied anyways because your product isn’t right for them.
Change, people hate it. Honesty and transparency though – people love it. If you have changed your pricing, inventory, service levels and a customer has noticed negatively, it is time to give a full disclosure. It is misinformation and giving no response that will devolve into a barrage of negative reviews.
Instead, try to get ahead of any changes by giving advanced notice. Sometimes the notice can go straight to your existing customers inbox. Other times, you’ll need to be more public about it. Either way, there’s an opportunity here to couple the change with an explanation of benefit to the consumer. Unless you’re going out of business, there’s always a positive reason to your client for making a change. Tell them!
Keep a Human Involved
Provide a human contact. People hate having an ‘auto-responder’ email to their complaint or negative review. Take time to write a real response that is personal. You may be amazed at how positive people respond to this personal touch.
Keep these 5 tips in mind and you can turn any negative review into a positive marketing message.