24 September 2020

We all know how positive reviews can be beneficial for attracting new customers to your webshop or garden centre. But what about negative reviews, do you have to be worried about them? Or maybe even more important: what is the best way to deal with negative reviews?

Would it be a good idea to discourage customers from writing a review in order to avoid negative feedback? We don’t think so, and we'll explain why you shouldn’t and how to deal with negative reviews! 

Do people actually write reviews (and why)?

You might wonder if people actually take the time to share their experiences either positive and negative. Well, it turns out that a lot of garden centre customers do!

For example, our customer Welland Vale Garden Inspirations has exactly 100 Google reviews at this moment:

Some people might need a little reminder, for example by sending an email after an online purchase, but it turns out that customers generally like to share their experiences. This could be useful for other potential buyers, for people who are looking for inspiration or tips, and even for the garden centre. Whether it be praise or feedback on things that could improve.

Remember that even though you might receive negative reviews, the customer feels empowered by sharing some personal experiences, also the positive ones!

Why do people read reviews?

People read reviews to have a peek into the experiences that other customers have had in the garden centre, or regarding a certain product. They are looking for reasons to buy (or not to buy) a certain product, to visit (or not to visit) a certain garden centre. While reading these reviews, they might stumble upon your reactions to certain reviews which might bring a sense of authenticity along!

Reading some of the reviews people have written about Welland Vale, we clearly see several reasons why we should pay them a visit.

Rupert really loved the café:

And David also likes the soup since he had a nice soup over there:

Checking these reviews, you can see some customers are very happy with the café. Kudos to the team working in the Welland Vale Café: it will definitely help to get more people in for a drink or lunch.

How not to deal with negative reviews?

When you receive a negative review, the first thing you might want to do is either ignore it or defend yourself. Some companies can be very blunt about, like this hotel:

This, of course, probably isn’t the best option.

Imagine you put a lot of hard work in the products and services you’re offering and you receive a negative review. It would be a natural response to get defensive. You probably want to explain why the customer has got it wrong and you’re on the right side of things, but you’ll probably agree with me that this will make things worse.

Ignoring won’t improve things either, because the customer is probably waiting for a reply and besides that, there might be a silver lining in a negative review as well, because what if you take out the learnings and improve from there?

Going back to the Welland Vale reviews, one customer wrote this:

And apart from Annie, we noticed Ayesha wasn’t too happy with the customer service either:

You can ignore this feedback but you could also ask yourself the question if your customer service is spot on 7/7. Be aware a customer doesn’t see the difference between a school kid helping you out during the weekends or a long-time, well-respected team member.

So, take a deep breath and let’s see how to actually deal with negative reviews.

Tips on how to deal with negative reviews

Here are a few tips on how to deal with negative reviews:

  • The very first step in response to a negative review is acknowledgement. Most people who have a complaint just want to be heard at first. Acknowledging and apologizing for the situation will help to create a more positive attitude and to gain some momentum to explain what might have caused the negative experience. Besides that, you might even get the chance to change the customer’s mind.
  • Always make sure your response is adjusted to the situation. Besides that, make it personal! Leave your name, first letters or function and contact details so the customer sees the response is personal and adjusted to the situation.
  • You don’t want to contradict the customer in a defensive way, but you can actually try to explain why the situation is rare. Do keep in mind, however, that the customer wants to be heard, so try to leave enough space for understanding and acknowledging their complaint.

And last but not least, the most important one:

  • Always use the negative review as a lesson. If you hear the same criticism multiple times, it actually means that despite your effort, something is not going well. Take it as a lesson and find out what you can do about it!

What to do with complaints about your products or services?

Imagine a customer in your garden centre returns after 3 weeks with a plant that looks the opposite of a thriving and healthy plant.

Your response could be short and simple such as ‘you should have given it more water’, or ‘provide more light’, but apparently, your customer is coming back to leave on a happier note than he or she came in.

The purchase price of the plant is usually around 3 times lower than the selling price, so to actually make your customer happy you could also give a new plant and provide all the information on how to take care of it.

Your customer will leave happy, the complaint has been solved, and the customer will probably come back again (and you still have a profit margin!).

How to deal with negative reviews
Julia van Vliet

This article is written by:

Julia van Vliet

Content marketeer

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