You can’t please 100% of your customers 100% of the time. That certainly isn’t an excuse to not try for complete customer satisfaction, but in all reality, it will likely never happen. Being realistic with yourself and with your team about this is the first step in creating a solid strategy for turning negative program feedback into positive exposure for your organization.
Use these tips to develop an approach to negative online reviews:
DO be polite and take time to acknowledge their concerns. That doesn’t mean you have to spend hours crafting a lengthy response. However, this is going to be published publicly, so you should take enough time to use proper punctuation and grammar. When framed correctly, this is a great way to turn their negative comment around by highlighting your program’s strengths. For example, something like this:
“Hi Susan! I’m sorry you had a bad experience with our program. We’ve been around for 25 years, serving thousands of students per year, and we always strive to provide the best possible experience for our participants. Clearly, we have failed you along the way.”
DO explain what has changed or what relevant changes are in the works. Have you changed a particular aspect of the registration process? Has your itinerary been modified to include new destinations, accomodations, activities, or lessons? Have you started on a program overhaul that should be complete in time for the next session?
Be sure to explain those points if they are relevant to the original concerns, and invite the user to give your program another shot if it makes sense. Something like this could do the trick:
“We have implemented a new process for screening host locations and giving participants more options. I would love to offer you 10% off the registration price to try one of our other programs this summer. ”
DON’T respond while you’re still upset. It’s normal to feel a bit defensive when somebody slams something you’ve worked really hard on. It will be much more beneficial for your reputation to take some time to cool off before you sit down to address the negative feedback. Customers want to feel heard and acknowledged, and they definitely won’t get that impression if you’re defending your program or, even worse, berating them.
DON’T ask people to remove their review. Unless it is obviously fake, never suggest anybody take their review down from the site. This only perpetuates a negative image or gives other potential customers the impression that you have something to hide. Instead, encourage folks to give your program another chance. That will come across as much more authentic and responsible.