Fake reviews are the bane of businesses all over the world; it’s a constant battle. Over-indulgent, negative put-downs can cause just as much ruin as the genuine negative ones.
Businesses need to sift the real reviews – whether good or poor – from the ‘false’ reviews to give them head start. But how do you ‘sieve’ for an honest response?
Firstly, a business needs to remain cautious without being dismissive, says review site Feefo. Ask yourself, is the customer complaint something the business has control over? Does the customer have a realistic and fair perception of the product or service? Is the complaint associated with an issue raised regularly?
Let’s take a look at some of the essentials of responding to negative reviews.
1) Supply chains matter
When a business is the weak link in your supply chain, they can cause hiccups in your deliveries or miscommunication about your product.
According to Survey Monkey it is your responsibility to act on poor service from any point along the supply chain. The consumer is simply handing over hard cash and it is up to your company to make sure they receive what they’ve paid for.
Feefo recommends responding with options for resolution. The issue, even when rectified, needs to be logged for future reference, particularly if it could relate to the company’s advertising, website or other marketing.
2) Ask questions
Questions should be asked to better understand the exact customer complaint and a decent explanation needs to be given if possible. This needs to be investigated and worked on as a priority to avoid further complaints. Feefo’s Campaign Manager tool is a good way to convert complaining customers into loyal ones.
3) Closed reviews vs open reviews
Choosing whether to have closed or open review sections can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be.
Open reviews means a business is open to digital menaces; any kind of comment can be left, often derogatory suggests retently.com.
Closed review platforms, such as Feefo, behave differently:
- Closed reviews require a verified purchase, minimising the risk of fake reviews
- They allow customers to contact the brand directly before leaving a review to rectify any issues or problems
- Companies can learn from and work with customer insights gained from closed review content. This allows not just for the conversion of neutral or negative feeling to positive, but also for brand loyalty to be built, issues to be rectified, growth areas to be identified and new customers to be recruited
4) Taking action against a reviewer
A touchy subject, but one that is firmly on the industry’s lips.
Referring to a business as a ‘scam’ will, for the first time, be investigated by the courts. Defamation is a serious business, but consumers can’t go about slating a company without firm justification. Freedom of speech is flexible both ways and it’s vital to listen to your customers, suggests advice from paldesk.com
5) Play it cool
Businesses should be advised strongly against taking drastic action against customers reviewing their products or services online. However, if a truly defamatory statement is to occur in an online customer review, its origins and reasonings should be explored.
6) The backfire effect
Careful with this; a customer battle can create negative PR for the business rather than the individual who left the review. Public knowledge of a brand taking such action to censure customers can significantly impact on its image and perception and, in our online era, is likely to be the recipient of boycott and further negative action.
Instead, businesses should be encouraged to enter into conversations with unhappy customers to best understand and resolve any such issues on behalf of both parties. After all, “When you help others feel important, you help yourself feel important too” – David J. Schwartz, Author and Motivational Speaker.
7) Stay professional
While some reviews could be ill-informed or inaccurate, any response to it from a business should be conducted in the most professional manner possible. Being polite and expressing a genuine interest in helping a customer is much more likely to resolve, neutralise and even flip a negative review rather than just discarding the concern expressed as irrelevant or inaccurate. Even if you truly believe a review to be false, your public response to it is what your future customers will see.
When you need a boost in customer service – it’s important to check the following:
- The true reason for any alleged complaint
- The touchpoints in the customer journey where any issue occurred, and, if appropriate, where it could have been avoided or resolved
- The anticipated result the customer is expecting from leaving a negative review
- What the business can offer to resolve the issue
- What the terms of business are and what is considered in or out of scope.