How to Handle Bad Reviews: Your Cheat-sheet to a Stress-free Customer Service Strategy

Carter McCue

6 mins read

, <strong>How to Handle Bad Reviews: Your Cheat-sheet to a Stress-free Customer Service Strategy</strong>, Awkward Styles Blog

Let’s face it. Managing your online store alone is quite far from being stress-free. You need to take care of product sourcing, product photography, marketing, shipping, returns, and a million other things. So when a customer leaves a bad review, it can feel like a personal attack.

But while this may sound so cliché, oftentimes, it’s not really you. Perhaps it’s something about your product, the ordering process, or the customer’s expectations. Whatever it is, a bad review doesn’t have to spell doom for your business. You can turn it around and use it to improve your customer service strategy.

And in this article, we’ll show you how to do just that.

How Bad Reviews Affect Your Brand & Business

Let’s first dissect how a bad review can affect your business. After all, understanding the problem is half the battle.

Bad Reviews Affect Your Business’ Image

According to ReviewTrackers‘ survey, 94% of online shoppers say that they have been “convinced” to not purchase from a company because of bad reviews. This only shows that customers take reviews seriously when making a purchase decision and that a single bad review can make or break your business’ image.

Every Star Counts

Apart from the written qualitative reviews, it’s important to note that the lower your star ratings get, the fewer sales you’re likely to make. In fact, according to another survey by Search Engine Land, only 13% of online shoppers would be willing to consider purchasing from a store with two stars or less. This is a huge leap from the 57% of shoppers who would still buy from a store with three stars, and 94% who would still consider a four-star one.

, <strong>How to Handle Bad Reviews: Your Cheat-sheet to a Stress-free Customer Service Strategy</strong>, Awkward Styles Blog

Why Bad Reviews Happen

There really isn’t a single answer to this question. In a sea of five-star, positive reviews, a one- or two-star review can really stand out like a sore thumb. But more often than not, customers leave bad reviews because they’re:

  • Unhappy with the quality of your product
  • Not satisfied with your customer service
  • Frustrated with the shipping time or process
  • Upset about a return or exchange issue
  • Concerned about your business’ practices

The worst thing about such situations is, what’s done is done. The review has been posted and there’s really no way to take it down (at least, not without some serious legal implications). Thus, the best course of action is to take the high road and use the opportunity to improve your customer service strategy and TALK to your customers.

How Exactly Do You Handle Them?

And we’ll cut to the chase. Here’s a list of things you should do when you come across a bad review:

Don’t Take it Personally

As mentioned, a bad review doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a reflection of you or your business. It could be an isolated incident or simply a customer who’s impossible to please. Whatever it is, try not to take it personally and keep a level head. Doing so will allow you to better assess the situation and take the appropriate actions.

Craft Your Own Plan & Response Templates

While no business owner looks forward to receiving a negative review, you can at least be prepared for when it does happen. According to ReviewTrackers‘ 2022 report, 53% of online shoppers expect a business to reply to their bad reviews in a span of one week. Thus, it’s important to have a plan and response templates ready so you can address the review as soon as possible.

Your plan should include your business’ review policies, response guidelines, and even a review monitoring process. This way, you can ensure that every bad review is responded to in a timely and consistent manner.

Make it Human

When crafting a response template, make sure to keep it human. This means using a friendly and relatable tone, avoiding generic phrases, and really addressing the customer’s concerns. A humanized response will show the customer that you’re sincere in trying to resolve the issue and that you value their feedback— good or bad.

For example, instead of starting your response with “Dear Customer,” try “Hi (name),” or “Hello (name),” instead. This small change can really make a difference in the way your response is received.

“Your feelings are valid.”

Your customers want to know that you understand how they’re feeling and that you acknowledge your part in the situation. So, instead of getting defensive or trying to shift the blame, take responsibility for what happened.

By saying something like, “I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t have a good experience,” or “It sounds like you’re really upset,” you’re validating their feelings and letting them know that you’re taking their concerns seriously.

And They Matter to Your Brand

“We’re working on it.”

Apart from acknowledging their concerns, customers also want to know that you’re taking active steps to prevent the same thing from happening again in the future. Their experience and opinions matter to your brand, and you want them to be aware of that.

So, let them know that you’re listening and that you’re taking their feedback to heart by saying something like, “We’re sorry for what happened and we’re constantly working on improving our products and services.” or “Here’s what we can do to help make things right.”.

Provide an Explanation

Speaking of making things right, if a bad review is due to an error on your part, make sure to provide a detailed explanation of what happened and why it won’t happen again in the future. Transparency goes a long way in building trust and maintaining relationships with your customers.

For example, if some orders were delayed because of a problem with your supplier, you can let your customers know about the situation and assure them that you’re taking steps to prevent it from happening again in the future.

Talk Directly to the Customer

If the thread is getting heated, or if you feel like the customer is not going to be satisfied with anything less than a refund, it might be best to take the conversation offline. You can do this by asking for their contact information so you can continue the discussion in a more private setting.

This will allow you to resolve the issue without having to worry about the customer’s complaints being seen by other potential customers. Plus, it shows that you’re willing to go the extra mile to resolve the issue—something your customers will definitely appreciate.

Rekindle the Spark

, <strong>How to Handle Bad Reviews: Your Cheat-sheet to a Stress-free Customer Service Strategy</strong>, Awkward Styles Blog

Just like any other relationship, a customer’s relationship with your brand can go through ups and downs. And while a bad review might put a damper on things, it doesn’t have to be the end of the relationship.

In fact, if you handle the situation correctly, a bad review can actually be an opportunity to rekindle the spark and turn a negative experience into a positive one. You can do this by providing incentives such as discount vouchers, free shipping, or even a free product to show that you care about making things right and that you appreciate their feedback.

Follow Up

It’s also important to follow up with the customer after the issue has been resolved to make sure they’re satisfied with the outcome. This can be done via email, over the phone, or even through a personal visit if the situation warrants it.

Taking the time to follow up shows that you’re invested in the customer’s experience and that you’re not just trying to sweep the issue under the rug.

Some Infamous Bad Review Samples

Bad reviews come in all shapes and sizes. And while some might be more constructive than others, they all have the potential to damage your brand’s reputation—especially if you don’t know how to handle them.

To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most infamous bad reviews out there. Use them as a learning tool to see what not to do when confronted with an unhappy customer.

One-sentence or One-word Reviews

Reviews accompanied by one-star ratings and short, unhelpful comments such as “trash”, “garbage”, or “worst product ever” don’t provide much in the way of helpful feedback.

Thus, when responding to these reviews, you can try asking for more specific details and how you can improve their customer experience. You can say something like, “We’re sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy our product. Could you please let us know what we could have done better?”.

The “I’m Never Shopping Here Again” Reviews

Reviews from very angry customers who vow to never shop with you again can be tricky to handle. When the customer does not take your response well or if they insist on getting a refund, it might be best to take the conversation offline by asking for their contact information or sending them an email.

This will allow both of you to settle the issue and understand the situation better.

Reviews With No Context

Similar to one-sentence or one-word reviews, you can handle these by asking for more specific details. You can say something like, “We’re sorry to hear that you didn’t have a good experience. Can you please elaborate on what happened?”.

However, in such cases, you can’t always expect a response from the customer. All you can do is try to be as understanding and reevaluate your policies and procedures to see if there’s anything you can do to improve the customer experience.

Bad Reviews Aren’t the End of the World

If you’re just starting out, seeing your store’s first negative review can be a disheartening experience. But it’s important to remember that bad reviews are a fact of life for any business owner. And while they can be frustrating, it is possible to turn them into an opportunity to improve your products or services, and strengthen your relationship with your customers.

So, the next time you see a bad review, don’t panic. Take a deep breath and follow the tips outlined in this article. With a little bit of effort, you’ll be able to turn the situation around and come out stronger than ever before.

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