YOUR 5-STEP GUIDE TO HANDLING CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS April 4, 2018 | Business Tips | client satisfaction , small business , Google , Google My Business , Facebook By Zach Vesper When you’re running your own business, it’s inevitable—there are some people you just can’t please. To make things worse, these customers are almost three times more likely to leave you a review online than happy customers who had a great experience. As scary as they seem, bad customer reviews have their place in the online reputation ecosystem. For example, a business with nothing but rave reviews can seem suspicious, because people live in the real world and expect to see some customer complaints. In this way, the occasional bad review can lend credibility to your overall rating on sites like Google, Facebook and Yelp. The real trick is understanding how to handle bad customer reviews when they do appear. If you react to them the right way, they’ll make your business look more professional and trustworthy. Here are the things you’ll need to remember when you’re addressing a negative review about your business. 1. Enhance your calm. As soon as you see a complaint appear on a review site, your first impulse is probably to get defensive. You believe in what you do and provide a great service that people love, so bad reviews tend to cut right to the heart. It’s completely natural to want to take these things personally, but the best thing for your business is to be as cool and collected as you can be. Don’t respond right away when you’re angry or upset, because often you’ll regret what you say in the heat of the moment. Also, don’t assume that what you say now can be changed later—treat your reply like it’ll be set in stone. 2. Understand their perspective. Once you get your emotions in check, start thinking about the problem from your customer’s perspective. Do they have a point? How would you feel if you were in their situation, and what would you want someone to do for you to resolve the problem? Use their review as an opportunity to identify areas of your business that could use improvement. Don’t take it personally if you get multiple complaints about the same issue—instead, treat this as incredibly valuable information that you can use to grow. 3. Acknowledge their problem. After you’ve come to understand the problem from your customer’s perspective, you need to communicate in your response that you’ve heard their criticism and want to come to a resolution they’re happy with. This won’t be possible with some people, but the vast majority will appreciate that you’ve taken the time to hear them out and are responsive to their concerns. To others reading the negative review and your response to it, this approach goes a long way in displaying your professionalism and integrity. Now what if the bad review is totally off-base? In cases like this, you’re responding more for the benefit of other potential customers reading your reviews. You should explain your perspective clearly and succinctly, always maintaining an even-handed tone. At the end of your reply, you should invite them to contact you directly if they have any further concerns—this will show others that you’re willing to maintain open communication with every customer to resolve their issues. 4. Offer a quick resolution. Sometimes an upset customer won’t be happy until they get a full refund, but it’s not likely to come to that. Most upset customers are reasonable people, and they’re defused easily when they see that you’re willing to listen to them, solve their problem and offer some kind of concession for their trouble. Whether you offer them a discount for a future service, a free upgraded warranty or something else that’s valuable to them, they’ll walk away feeling like you care about them. This is the best way to turn an angry customer into an advocate for your brand. Here’s an example of a perfect response to a negative review that accomplishes everything we’ve talked about above: “I’m so sorry to hear that you are less than satisfied with your NPI/GPI service. I take constructive criticism very seriously and would love the opportunity to right my wrong. You can expect a phone call from me so we can further discuss your concerns. Again, I apologize that you are unhappy with your inspection and look forward to getting in touch with you soon.” 5. Move on with your life. Once you’ve crafted and delivered a professional response that solved your customer’s issue, you have to learn not to dwell on it. The bottom line is that bad reviews happen to the best of us, and they’re not the end of the world. As long as you handle customer complaints with composure and understanding, you’ll come out with a clearer idea of what your customers need so you can deliver even better service in the future. If you’re a current NPI franchisee, we’re always here to help you craft professional responses to customer reviews! Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org for one-on-one help. Looking to start a National Property Inspections franchise? Request your free, no-obligation info packet at npifranchise.com/learn-more . About the Author Zach Vesper, SEO and Marketing Specialist Zach brings more than six years of SEO experience to the table, making him your go-to web optimization specialist--he knows how to help your website reach the first page! He's always more than happy to answer your questions about all things Google. Zach is a film buff, an old-fashioned connoisseur and an avid reader of science fiction. When he’s not working, he’s hanging out with his wife, Stepha.