Recently I’ve been asked for guidance on how companies should respond to customer reviews. So, I figured that readers of Socially Supportive may be wondering the same thing and decided to share my philosophy and a few pointers.
Frankie’s Response Philosophy: Customer Reviews
Whether it’s on your site or a consumer review site, a poor review of your product or service out there on the internet can really sting. If you’re anything like me, you want to reach out immediately to address the situation and make things right. People could see that, and this is your company! Before taking any action, take a step back and breathe.
Should You Respond?
- Re-read the customer’s review. Try to put yourself in the customer’s shoes, and re-read the review. This can help you get past any residual hurt caused by the post and help you focus on what the customer has shared.
- Investigate the situation. Do some quick investigative work to locate the customer’s records and understand what happened from the company’s perspective. Remember, there are many vantage points of any interaction, and it’s helpful to gather all available information before deciding how to respond.
- Decide whether or not to respond. Next, ask yourself whether you should respond. This is an important step that is sometimes overlooked. There are some instances where a response from your company will not only not make the situation any better, but could, potentially, make it worse. Not every review warrants a response. If a customer review includes clearly unreasonable expectations, a reasonable person reading the review will likely discard that person’s review.
If you decide a response is warranted, follow the steps below.
Customer Review Response Steps
- Reply with an offer to investigate. Try saying “Let me look into this for you. This is not the experience we want you to have.” This does a few things. It admits no guilt or fault, but publicly shows the company is listening and wants customers to have a good experience.
- Ask the customer to contact you, or agree to let you contact him/her. This is important because it takes the conversation offline. The internet is largely a public domain, and your conversation online is not only with that customer, but also the rest of the internet. Unless the customer’s experience is very basic, other customers will not benefit from the minutia of this customer’s particular details. The point here is to let the customer (and the world) know that you are interested in getting to the bottom of things. If the customer does not respond, respect this. Again, the customer has the right to post an online review without the expectation of responding to you. Your other customers will recognize that you did offer assistance.
- Discuss the issue with the customer. When you are able to contact the customer, ask what happened, in their perspective.
- Do the right thing. If the customer has been wronged, do what you can to make the customer whole. Refund monies owed, repair damaged items, make the situation right. If the customer is not entitled to damages, be careful. Courtesy can be extended as a good will gesture; however giving customers concessions they are not actually entitled to can backfire. You don’t want your social media channel to be seen as a way to get free goods or services when no wrong has actually been done. Remember that a person who has posted about the wrong they’ve encountered is more likely to share the remedy publicly.
- Close the loop publicly. If you have been able to satisfy the customer and repair the relationship, feel free to publicly post about how glad you are that the customer gave you the chance to make things right. Do not post the remedy (what you gave the customer or did for the customer) publicly. Each situation is unique and you do not want to advertise a particular customer resolution.
Remember that any feedback at all is helpful to your company and, as cheesy as this sounds, really is a gift. Many of us (myself included) will not take the time to provide feedback; we just take our business elsewhere. Experiencing the business process through your customer’s perspective can be a truly eye-opening event.