It happened - a customer ranted on a review website about your company and gave you the lowest rating possible. Maybe they started by saying "Don't waste your money" or "Worst company ever!!!!" even with the multiple exclamation points to really get the message across. You might think this is the beginning of the end - but I promise it's not IF it's handled properly.
In one of my past positions, it was one of my responsibilities to monitor their reviews on various platforms. What I found is most of the time, people jump the gun with their complaints because it's in the heat of the moment and it's part of a domino effect going on in their life that you get the brunt of it. But first, let me take a step back.
I know as a consumer, if I'm not sure of a service or product, I check the reviews and go straight to the bad ones. I want to see what their complaint was but furthermore, what the company did to answer and resolve it. Don't think reviews will be swept under the rug because they can come back to haunt you.
If you're not already looking at reviews of your company, it's time to start. Consumers' trust in brands and celebrities is very low and nowadays they depend on the opinions of their peers. Even if you've never created an account, certain websites like Yelp, BBB, Google+, and even Facebook might already have something in place for your business because a customer decided to leave a review. Your top priority is to go in and claim these listings so you can start to gain some control over what's being portrayed about your company.
Once you'd done this or if you've already created these accounts, you need to monitor them, at least once a week. When this was part of my job description, I tried to set aside about an hour or two a week to go through all our accounts. Even if it's all good reviews, it's important to be proactive. A simple "Thanks for choosing us!" or "We're glad we could help with ___" goes a long way.
Now for the bad reviews. No matter how infuriating they may seem, how much you want to retaliate, stop and take a breath. First, you may not have been the actual source of their rage, but you are the endpoint that gets dumped on. It's important to do a little research about the customer and what really happened. Did you do everything possible to help the customer? Was this written before a resolution was found? Are you ACTUALLY at fault? Here's how I handled negative reviews:
The best message to get across is that you did everything you could, you're continuing to work on the issue to find a proper resolution, apologize for dropping the ball if needed, and let them know how you're fixing it.
This might seem like a lot of work for one customer, but it's always worth it. Other customers will see that you are aware of what's going on in your company and want to make it right. No matter how bad the review, a great response can take that negative into a positive - and I've seen customers gained BECAUSE of a well-written response to a bad review!
A great resource for how to handle complaints is a book by Jay Baer called "Hug Your Haters." I highly recommend giving it a read.
If you read this and feel overwhelmed at the idea of adding another thing to do to your list, get in touch with me. I'd be happy to offer my services and experience!