Tips for startups on how to deal with negative reviews

- July 31, 2013 2 MIN READ

In the early stages of a startup, customer validation is essential. But many businesses overlook the importance of addressing customer feedback.

Founder of Australia’s leading business review site, WOMO.com.au, Fiona Adler, says “the confirmation that your market actually wants your product or service is essential to know that you’re on the right track.”

But in an era where customers are empowered and have reviewing platforms literally at their fingertips, “even the best business can face the brunt of a disgruntled customer.”

Not to worry! Businesses, whether new or old, get things wrong from time to time, and customers know that.

“Customers are actually pretty forgiving if we respond to their feedback and take a moment to show them that we care!” says Adler.

“[Turning negative reviews] on their head to work in your favour is the key to effective reputation management,” says Adler.

Fiona Adler, Founder of WOMO.com.au

Fiona Adler, Founder of WOMO.com.au

In her words, here are Fiona Adler’s top tips for startups on responding to negative reviews:

1) Don’t panic! Most start-ups are the founder’s baby so it can be easy to take poor feedback personally.

Before you react, take some time to internalise the review and put yourself in the shoes of your customer. Then you can respond to the review publically – whether or not the customer is right is irrelevant!

Make sure that you apologise for their experience, explain your side of the story (without getting defensive), and propose some sort of solution or compensation. This could simply be an invitation to discuss the matter with you personally.

You can also use your public response to elaborate on the positive aspects of your business and your commitment to customer satisfaction.

2) If you know the customer (and chances are you do if you’re in startup phase), contact them directly to discuss their feedback.

Customer reviews are the cheapest form of market research you can get!

And with proper handling, an unhappy customer can turn out to become one of your most loyal fans

3) Encourage some of your other customers to review you as well.

People judge a business not just on one review, but on the weight of public opinion.

Rather than let one negative review attract all the attention, ask some of your happy customers to share their experiences online!

Most businesses with several positive reviews, soon start getting customer enquiries as a direct result of those reviews. Anything your customers say about your business is far more convincing than anything you can say about yourself!