Turning negative reviews into positive outcomes

Published on Tuesday, 15 August 2017
Last updated on Thursday, 22 October 2020

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Maintaining an online presence via a website and/or social media profile is critical for early childhood service providers in today's economy. Conducting online research before purchase has become a standard part of consumer practice and ensuring you keep your website and social profiles up-to-date, relevant and interesting is a sure fire way of converting browsers into buyers in the real world.

For parents searching for early childhood services the choice and information can be overwhelming, especially for first timers, and many rely on reviews from other parents to inform their decision making process. This can be great for business owners, but can also be problematic if there are negative reviews about a service online.

Unfortunately, negative reviews are part and parcel of being in business and are not completely avoidable, this may be especially true for parents dissatisfied with their early childhood provider as nothing is more important to a parent than their child.

While negative reviews can undeniably be damaging they can also provide an opportunity for you to demonstrate your communication and problem solving skills in a very public forum.

Responding and communicating with reviewers allows parent browsers to learn your side of the story, see what steps you took to rectify the problems perceived by the parent and understand more about your approach to problem solving.

Amanda DiSilvestro a writer for HigherVisibility, an agency which helps organisations optimise their online presence, offers these tips for successfully dealing with negative reviews.

Stay positive

Anyone who's ever worked in customer service knows how difficult it can be when a customer is attacking you. A negative review may get you upset, and as a human being your first instinct is to go on the defence, but that doesn't mean you should become a keyboard warrior and attack the reviewer.

Approach all negative reviews with a calm, positive attitude. Let the customer know you've heard their concerns, but never point fingers. Even if you're not in the wrong, you shouldn't make the customer feel like the victim.

It also doesn't do you any good to simply ignore the review. The general public would prefer you respond than simply ignore the situation. Responding with a positive comeback will show that your business cares about its customers.

Offer a solution

Have you ever heard the phrase, "Sorry won't cut it"? This is the case when you're responding to negative comments or reviews. Simply offering an apology to your customer won't do – a customer will want a solution to their problem. When you're responding to a negative review or comment, let the customer know how you'll fix the problem.

Reiterate your company's policies

You may fear that a negative review will make your company look bad. This is only the case should you ignore the review entirely. When you respond to a negative comment, flip the negative to a positive. Use this as an opportunity to reiterate your company's good qualities.

For example, you can respond by saying, "We're sorry you had a poor experience. We've been doing business for several years and most of our customers leave happy. We're sorry we didn't meet your expectations this time around."

Take the conversation offline

When you receive a negative review online, you should always respond immediately on the same platform. This not only satisfies the original poster, it's also a public place that all your potential customers will see.

However, some things can't be addressed online. Issues involving a customer's personal information, for example, should be discussed in person or over the phone. When addressing these types of negative reviews, provide a direct contact for your customers.

Taking the conversation offline shows that your business will go the extra mile to resolve any customer complaints or issues. However, you should only use this method for severe cases.

Does your company have a customer service line? This can also be a great way to incorporate an offline conversation. In your response, give the customer the line to your customer service department to resolve any issues that can't be taken care of online.

Approach the customer as a real person

We've all experienced the nightmare that is automatic bots. Calling into a customer service line and hearing a robot on the other end is one of the most frustrating situations a customer can experience. Consider this when you're responding to your customers. Leave out all the industry jargon, and speak to them like they're a real person – because they are!

When you use plain language and speak to the customer as a human being, you'll sound more genuine. Chances are, your customers will see you as a human as well, and not just as a business.

Ask for an update

If you've responded to the customer's review and solved the problem, don't hesitate to ask for an updated review. Often times customers will take this upon themselves and either delete or update their negative review.

Having trouble thinking of a nice way to ask? Once you've followed up with the customer, ask them something such as, "We appreciate your feedback, and would like other customers to know how we've solved your issue. Would you mind updating your review to reflect this?"

Always make sure you thank them for their feedback, regardless if they update the review or not.

Remember, you can't keep everyone happy all the time and when it comes to children this is even more the case. Try not to become angry or disillusioned when you read a negative review and take a calm and considered approach when you write your reply.

Demonstrating the steps you took to deliver a positive outcome is likely to increase business in your direction rather than drive it away.


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