Managing negative reviews on social media is an art form. When done correctly, it can turn potential setbacks into opportunities for growth and enhanced customer loyalty.

“A single positive review can increase conversions by 10%, while 100 reviews can lead to a 37% increase,” according to Bazaarvoice.

So when a single tweet can determine the entire fate of your brand’s reputation, you need to know how to respond. After all, you want to avoid going viral for all the wrong reasons.

Use these strategies and tactics to effectively manage negative reviews and interactions on social media.

The Reality of Negative Reviews

First things first: Negative feedback online is inevitable. No matter how flawless your products are or how stellar your customer service is, there’s always going to be that one negative review that makes you wonder if someone’s having a really bad day.

But even if you think the criticism is unwarranted, how you respond to that negativity can either make or break your brand’s online presence. (If you want to jump ahead to start tackling negative reviews, sign up for your free trial of Agorapulse.)

Why You Must Manage Negative Reviews as a Retail Business

Understanding the importance of managing these reviews is the first step in turning potential negatives into positives.

“A total of 53% of brands and retailers report that online reviews have a positive impact on in-store sales,” according to Bazaarvoice.

Here’s why paying close attention to negative feedback is so important for retail brands.

Benefits of handling negative reviews in retail

  1. Protect your brand reputation
  2. Create a trusted retail brand
  3. Enhance product and service quality
  4. Reduce customer churn
  5. Gain a competitive advantage

1. Protect your brand reputation

Your reputation on social media doesn’t just stay on the platform. Negative reviews left unaddressed can quickly tarnish the entire perception of your brand, driving potential customers away, both in-store and online.

In fact, a staggering 94% of consumers say that bad online reviews have convinced them not to buy from a business, which just goes to show the impact negative reviews can have on your brand image and reputation.

2. Create a trusted retail brand

On the flip side, when you do take the time to respond to reviews, it makes a difference—not just for the customer who left the review, but also to everyone else who sees the review.

According to a study by ReviewTrackers, 45% of consumers say they are more likely to visit a business if it responds to negative reviews.

Not only that, businesses that respond to reviews can increase the trust in their brand by 30%.

3. Enhance product and service quality

Negative reviews often contain constructive criticism that can provide valuable insights into areas of improvement. By addressing these issues, you can enhance your product and service quality, ultimately leading to better customer satisfaction and higher ecommerce sales. (If you have a social media management tool like Agorapulse, you can more easily improve your customer service. Try Agorapulse for free and find out how.)

4. Reduce customer churn

Customer churn, or customer attrition, is the process of customers leaving your business or no longer buying your product, and it is a big problem for many retailers.

Almost half (45%) of retailers now experience churn rates upwards of 51%.

To improve your churn rate, you need to have a solid post-sale process that helps you retain more customers. One part of this should include review management strategy. By responding to negative feedback online effectively, you can possibly keep that customer around for longer, and stop them from going to your competitor.

A staggering 94% of online consumers say a negative online review has convinced them to avoid a business, according to ReviewTrackers.

Gaining a competitive advantage

Responding to reviews can also give you another edge over your retail competitors in a big way, because the majority (75%) of businesses do not even respond to their reviews at all!

In doing so, they are leaving valuable business on the table, as companies who respond to at least 25% of their reviews make 35% more in earnings than unresponsive businesses. By effectively managing negative reviews, you can demonstrate superior customer service, potentially winning over the customers from your competitors who fail to engage with their audience.

Now let’s look at a few different methods that retailers can use to reply to their incoming negative reviews effectively.

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How to Respond to Negative Reviews on Social Media

Respond promptly

Time is crucial when you receive a negative review on social media. Over half of customers expect a response to a negative review within a week, and one third of customers expect a response in 3 days or less. Responding promptly to negative feedback shows that you value customer input and are committed to resolving issues.

Keep your composure

Do your best to stay calm when responding to a negative review or receiving negative feedback on social media. Keep it polite and professional, no matter how unjustified the complaint may seem, or how rude the customer is being. A simple “We’re sorry you had a bad experience. Can you tell us more so we can make it right?” can go a long way.

Offer solutions, not excuses

Customers don’t want to hear why something went wrong; they want to know how you’re going to fix it. Offer concrete solutions or alternatives to resolve the issue. This not only appeases the dissatisfied customer but also shows potential customers that you’re willing to go the extra mile.

How to Get Fewer Negative Reviews

In an ideal world, you’d never receive any negative reviews in the first place.

Though you can’t avoid having any negative review ever, you canreduce the number of negative reviews you receive (and increase the number of positive reviews) by:

  • Incentivizing feedback from in-store customers
  • Clearly communicating exchange and return policies
  • Empower your customer-facing employees
  • Using a social listening/monitoring tool

1. Incentivize feedback from in-store customers

As many retailers operate both in-store and online shopping experiences, encourage your satisfied customers that shop at your physical store to leave a review online as well. Some retailers even encourage in-store customers to leave reviews by with incentives like monthly contests or draws.

Home Depot, for example, prints on their receipts a QR code that allows customers to complete a short survey, and enters them into a draw for a $3000 Home Depot gift card. By encouraging your in-store customers to share their positive experiences online or on social media can help counterbalance negative perceptions and provide a more comprehensive view of your brand.

2. Clearly communicate exchange and return policies

One of the most common sources of negative reviews in retail involves product returns and exchanges. Be proactive and communicate your exchange and return policy with your customers upfront when they make a purchase.

By highlighting your return policy ahead of time, it will help mitigate any potential dissatisfaction and reduce chances of a customer misunderstanding the policy. Even adding a small sign on your check out counter that lists the policy can be useful.

Some stores such as Dollarama, even go one step further than that by posting their return policy on the front door, to make it very clear what their policy is.

3. Empower your customer-facing employees

Retail staff often bear the brunt of customer dissatisfaction firsthand. Training your team to handle negative feedback constructively and empowering them to resolve common issues can prevent negative experiences from escalating to public reviews.

Starbucks’ approach to customer service, where employees are encouraged to make right any customer dissatisfaction, serves as a good example of this. This policy means that if you are unhappy with your Starbucks drink, you can always have an employee re-make it free of charge. This helps reduce the chance of a customer leaving a negative review about the quality of their Venti Triple Espresso No-Whip Caramel Frappuccino.

4. Use a social listening tool

Social listening tools can help you by monitoring your social media channels for any mentions of your brand, positive or negative. It’s the digital equivalent of keeping your ear to the ground. Tools like Google Alerts can be a good free starting point, but using more advanced social media listening tools (like Agorapulse, for example) can make staying on top of what people are saying about your brand even easier.

Sign up for a free trial of Agorapulse.

Using Agorapulse to Manage Negative Reviews on Social

Centralize your review management tasks

With Agorapulse, you can bring messages and comments from all your social media channels under one roof, making it easier to monitor and manage social interactions with your customers. This allows you to respond faster and tackle any customer issues as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Use response templates

Agorapulse lets you create saved replies, or response templates, for common issues. This feature is particularly handy when dealing with frequently asked questions or common complaints from customers by saving you time and ensuring consistency in replies across your entire customer care team.

Create in-depth reports

Agorapulse provides detailed reports and analytics, helping you gauge the effectiveness of your customer service strategies and identify areas for improvement.

Listen to what customers are saying

With our social listening features, it is easier to stay on top of what your customers are saying about your brand online. Use social listening searches to better understand the perception and online sentiment of your brand or your competitors to improve your positioning in the market.

Improve the Retail Experience With Negative Review Management

Bottom line, the ultimate goal of managing your negative reviews is to turn these negative interactions into positive outcomes for both your customers and your business.

Whether it’s turning a dissatisfied customer into a brand advocate or using a critical review to find areas of improvement, each negative interaction online is a chance to show that your brand is one that genuinely cares about the customer experience.

By tackling your negative reviews with empathy and care, you will create and maintain a brand that customers trust and respect even more in the future.

In Conclusion

So, the next time you encounter a less-than-glowing review, don’t sweat it. Just use it as an opportunity to show what your brand is really about, and you’ll be able to turn those one star reviews into five stars in no time.

Ready to take your customer care to the next level? Sign up for Agorapulse today and turn those negative reviews into opportunities for growth and engagement.