If you sell online, you have an online reputation. The way the marketplace perceives your site and brand contributes to your traffic, sales, repeat business, loyalty and referrals. Thus, managing your online reputation by effectively addressing negative feedback is imperative.
Negative feedback can occur through social media comments, product reviews, company reviews and in other digital spaces. The following is an overview of key strategies to help you handle it well.
Adopt a Learning Stance
Some entrepreneurs avoid eCommerce primarily to stay away from the potential for negative feedback. However, a learning attitude helps you view feedback, even on a public forum, as a chance to learn and grow.
Before you strategically react to the message, take the time to discuss it, understand it and formulate a plan for adjustments as needed. In the long run, a commitment to learning and improving the customer experience helps resolve issues and reduce the amount of negative feedback you receive.
Acknowledge and Assess the Situation
Regardless of the initial merits of the claim, acknowledge the customer’s feelings and perspective. Even if you never win back the complainant, others want to see that you care and respond to problems that arise.
Determine the best next step to continue the conversation with the customer. Ideally, you want to shift the conversation offline to private messages, email or other communication channels. Doing so allows you to work toward a resolution without the need for a public back-and-forth.
Avoid Defensiveness and Criticism
It is human nature to defend yourself and the things you represent in the face of criticism. However, doing so on social media or in a review platform isn’t good for your image. It makes you seem defensive, hostile and disinterested in resolving customer issues. None of these are inviting for would-be customers exploring your online reputation.
You definitely want to address the complaint in the public forum in which it is present. However, do so by showing your general interest in a quality customer experience, and inviting the complainant for the offline discussion.
Resolve the Issue and Request a Revision
After you communicate online, work to resolve the problem to the customer’s satisfaction. This resolution may include fixing a product, offering a replacement or presenting a discount. It is important that you follow-through on whatever commitments you made in the conversation.
It is reasonable and practical to ask that the customer revise the review or negative public comment after you remedy the problem. Many people are happy to do so in the same way they were happy to call you out for the problem in a public venue. These revisions also show prospects that you did address the problem and care about your customers.
To build a strong online reputation, attract repeat business and drive referrals, eSellers need to effectively address negative online feedback. Follow the strategies described here to give yourself the best chance for online reputation success.