With today’s shoppers more digitally and socially savvy than ever before, the gateway to bad online reviews is becoming more unpredictable by the day. This is undoubtedly a terrifying thought for retailers since good customer service is the lifeblood of the retail industry. In fact, 60% of shoppers say they would walk away from a purchase due to poor customer service.
If you’ve recently entered the digital retail space – whether via a social media channel or online store – you’re probably quite nervous at the prospect of dealing with bad online reviews. Don’t stress – there are ways retailers can successfully manage negative online reviews.
Timing is everything
Constant connectivity via mobile and online shopping has certainly transformed the retail landscape, especially when it comes to how shoppers are connecting with and talking about retailers. Whether your shoppers are visiting you in-store or online, they are digitally plugged in as soon as they finish their transaction and thus able to give your brand a serious serving if they’re unhappy with your service, making timing a crucial element.
If you are going to implement an online presence for your retail store you’ve got to monitor this space very closely. Whether you choose to do this yourself or hire a dedicated social media manager, keeping close tabs on all your social channels so as to respond to any negative feedback as soon as it comes in is essential. It’s also a good idea to check up on Google now and then to make sure you haven’t missed any Google reviews or other retail rating websites.
Don’t poke the bear
The customer is always right. We repeat, the customer is always right.
Arguing with a customer is never a good idea, especially if it’s online and visible for the world to see. Remember that shoppers often rely on the opinions of previous shoppers when making purchase decisions. How you respond to a negative online review will affect not only the attitude of that particular shopper but also every other prospective shopper after that.
Even if you feel that the negative review is uncalled for, and it’s making your blood boil, matching a shopper’s level of dissatisfaction and rudeness will not end well. It pays to have an escalation process in place. Work with a freelance social media manager to put together a document that details each step of the review management process. This can then be shared with staff to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Take the issue offline
In some cases, shoppers who’ve left bad reviews really just want to be heard and want a resolution for any inconvenience caused. By encouraging disgruntled shoppers to take the matter offline by supplying an email address or phone number they can call at their convenience will help them feel respected and that you’re taking the matter seriously. Taking the issue offline is also the easiest way to avoid the matter escalating online for everyone to see.
Prevention is key
We’ve talked before about the importance of treating your store as a media channel (a topic borrowed from the Retail Prophet, Doug Stephens) and creating an incredible in-store experience. After all, that’s how physical retailers can beat the likes of Amazon.
Make your store an amazing place to be. On the very basic level that starts with great customer service: friendly, helpful and personable staff are essential and go a long way to building trust with customers. But on the occasions when, despite your best efforts, things don’t go to plan and your customers are venting their frustrations online, remember every situation can be solved and every angry customer can be converted.
As daunting as it seems to know that once your name is out there, anyone can write anything they want about you, the manner in which you deal with the commentary is your best defense.