As 2021 ended, I couldn’t help but notice the negative feedback received by one of SVG’s newest hospitality brands; further to that, from time to time, we have all heard complaints about the customer service experience at some private enterprises as well as at some of the public sector offices. By now, you as a business owner, department head, manager/supervisor, or marketing professional, should be cognizant of the impact of reviews. People trust reviews as much as they would a personal recommendation, and most people read reviews before using a product or service. I am sure your business/brand loves receiving positive feedback but are you underestimating the importance of negative reviews? For 2022, embrace negative reviews and use PR to turn those reviews around. Here’s how:
1. Transparency – No one likes negative feedback but it’s not the end of the world if you’re willing to do something about it. If you receive a negative online review, don’t delete it; by leaving it up, you are demonstrating that you’re a transparent company. However, if you delete it, it appears as if you have something to hide and that upsets the already disgruntled customer/guest. The latter can lead to them sharing their experience online and by extension your reputation taking a beating.
2. Feedback helps! – The feedback you receive should be used to improve your service/product and to grow. Listening to customers and acting on their feedback is critical so when they share a review, it’s a big deal! Ensure your team, including supervisors and management understands that customer feedback/complaints are a big deal and should be taken seriously as opposed to being brushed aside. To effectively build the brand’s reputation, you need to respond to consumer concerns in the right way. How?
Be timely: You are more likely to create a positive outcome with a timely response to a negative review. Most importantly, take the emotions and frustrations out of the mix; have a clear head before typing, and plan your answer before you send it.
Show empathy – Acknowledge their feelings and any inconvenience caused. Apologise, be sincere and choose your words wisely; sometimes less is more.
Be clear but not defensive – Show that their negative experience is not an everyday occurrence e.g. ‘We’re known for our attention to detail, and we regret that we missed the mark on this’. It’s important that other reviewers see this comment. At this point, it helps to take the dialogue off-line since you are not sure how the conversation/their response may go and you may not want that exchange to be public; most importantly, the customer is more likely to feel valued if you make the effort to contact them personally. The customer should feel heard, that you care and that you have done all that you can. Whether you believe it’s the brand’s fault or not, it’s still vital to make amends.
Add a personal touch – While conversing online, include your name and position and even invite them to contact you directly e.g. ‘My name is (name) and I am the owner/manager. We would greatly appreciate the opportunity to rectify this matter. If you’d be willing to discuss this further, please contact me at (insert phone/email)’. Avoid including your business name in your response since that may have negative effects for search engine optimization (SEO); the last thing you want is to have the negative review showing up in search results.
Candice Sealey is the Founder & Principal Consultant at Ignite! a Full-service Marketing & PR Consultancy that helps businesses/brands to stand out and communicate the right message to the right people at the right time through Strategy, Marketing, Media services and Design solutions. She is also a freelance content writer, advertising copywriter, voice-over talent, media personality. Follow us on FB & IG 784-432-2223. Email: igniteresults