How to Respond to Customer Reviews

How to Respond to Customer Reviews. image by Flavia Brandl.

How to Respond to Customer Reviews. image by Flavia Brandl.

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Discuss the issue with the customer. When you are able to contact the customer, ask what happened, in their perspective.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Know Your Customer to Improve Social Customer Experience

One of the first things taught to writers is that before you write a single word, you must first know your audience. This is true of authors, playwriters, speech writers, journalists, and, yes, bloggers too. It’s

Know Your Customer to Improve Social Customer Experience. Image by PDPics.

Know Your Customer to Improve Social Customer Experience. Image by PDPics.

helpful for us because it keeps us on target by sharpening our focus. Are you wondering why this matters to you as a person delivering customer experience? Good. Read on.

Let’s talk about football. Superbowl 49. Well, ok let’s talk about the commercials. Did you see the one about the guy with the Doritos bag on the airplane? How about the one with the screaming goat (or were there two with screaming goats?) Or that tear-jerker with the race car driver dad trying to balance work and home life? That one was my personal favorite. Sometimes it feels like these advertisers really get you, they really nail it. What about that insurance commercial, you know the one where the kid never got to grow up because of an accident in his house? Ouch. First, what a buzz kill in the middle of the Super Bowl. Your friends are over, you’re having drinks and snacks, in the mood to celebrate life and cheer for your team, and then this comes on. Second, does anyone have a friend who unfortunately had a child that died at an early age? I do. Can you imagine how horrible those friends felt watching that? What about couples who can’t have children that are reminded of all those milestones they won’t see their children go through. Yeah. Feels like those ad agencies really missed the mark, doesn’t it? Anybody run out and buy insurance after that commercial? I’m betting not.

So, what does all this have to do with your customer experience? Just this: know your customer. The reason these ads worked or didn’t work is because of demographic research. The commercials were slanted to father/child relationships because demographic research from last year showed that men weren’t really identifying with the 1960’s image of man as having little to no involvement with child rearing, and we know that today many more dads split child care duties or maybe outpace their wives in that department. GoDaddy even pulled their commercial before the Super Bowl because a preview before the event drew huge criticism. When they wrote a commercial that showed a couple happy to have their lost puppy returned because they planned to sell it to Danica Patrick on their website, they vastly misread how the general public would react.

In our general interactions with customers, we need to first endeavor to learn who we are talking to before we make assumptions about what that customer wants or needs. If you start off talking about how great it was that New England won right off the bat, there is the possibility your customer a) doesn’t even know that New England was in the Super Bowl; b) disagrees with you vehemently and thinks it’s a disgrace that Seattle didn’t win. Ask questions before making statements or recommendations. Test ideas and products on your target market before launching. Give free samples. Ask friends and neighbors. This research before launch might slow you down a bit, but it could save you heartache in the long run and get you much closer to the end result your customer is seeking.