So you’ve received a bad review and it’s affected your perfect 5 star rating or your customer is really unhappy and has sent you an angry email complaining about the cake you made for them or the service you provided, what do you do?  In the online world that we live in, it’s much easier for people to leave reviews or send you an angry email about your product and service than it would be to tell you face to face, so often the reviews are more angry and scathing unfortunately.  However, as a business you’ve got to deal with both the good and bad and you’ve got to make sure that you respond and communicate with all your customers.  Don’t just ignore a bad review in the hope that it will just disappear, it won’t unfortunately (unless it’s a fake!), and by responding it shows that you’re running a professional business and that you’re happy to help all customers.  So if you’ve received a bad review or complaint from a customer, here are some top tips to help you respond and deal with it:

  1. Don’t reply straight away: The worst thing you can do is reply straight away when you’re emotionally charged, it’s your business so it’s easy to take it personally and no-one likes personal criticism.  We’ve all been there and done it, but replying straight away will inevitably mean that you reply very angrily and not professionally.  If needed, send a simple response ‘Thank you for your email, we’re looking into this and will reply within 24 hours’ which gives you time to review it, get your response sorted but also allows you to get your emotions back in check!  The acknowledgement will also help calm the customer as they know you’ve acknowledged and dealing with it
  2. Is it real?  There are lots of bogus accounts and people out there, even your competitors who might want to leave a bad review under a different name.  If you genuinely don’t know who the review is from a simple response of ‘Thank you for your review, would you be able to let me know what service or product you’re referring to as I don’t seem to have you in our customer records and I’d like to look into this. Many thanks’.  By responding you’re showing your other customers or potential customers that this review could be false but that you’re keen to deal with it.  If you find that they don’t respond, feel free to report it as fraudulent to the website where they’ve left the review with the hope of getting it removed
  3. When responding state the facts and refer to your terms and conditions if you need to: If for example someone didn’t like the cake but waited a week to get in touch (and your T&Cs state they need to get in touch within 24 hours of cake delivery if there are any issues and also return it for you to sample) then state this.  Put yourself in their shoes, if you’re genuinely at fault you need to rectify it and compensate if needed but don’t be a walk over, you’re running a business and you need to protect yourself too as unfortunately there are people out there that will complain just to get a refund!
  4. Be specific about their complaint, don’t just respond with a standardised email or response.  You want your customer to feel like you’re taking their complaint seriously and that you genuinely are interested in their issues.
  5. State what you intend to do help (or what you’ve already done) to help rectify the issue.  Don’t get emotional and state the facts of the issues and if you tried to help or rectify a problem state this too.  Sometime it just takes a simple gesture of 10% off your next order to help a customer
  6. Take it offline: If the complaint is via an online review, try and not go back and forth on a public forum and in your first response finish with ‘If you’d like to discuss this further please contact me via email at xxxxxx’.
  7. Read back your response or even better get someone else to, to make sure it makes sense but that it’s also as professional as possible and then send it
  8. Accept that sometimes some people will never be pleased and that’s fine too.  As long as you know you’ve done everything possible to help them that’s all that matters
  9. Once you’ve dealt with the issue, read some positive reviews.  It’s so easy to let one bad review overshadow the 100 good reviews you might have so just accept that it is part and parcel of running a business and learn from it but don’t dwell on it – yes easier said that done!!
  10. If you don’t already have some, make sure you have terms and conditions in place so that you can refer to these and so that they’re very clear when people place orders.  Without clear terms and conditions that you share with your customers it’s difficult to put conditions on their sale after it’s happened

I hope this is helpful and hopefully you don’t need to deal with unhappy customers too often!