It’s a scary thought. Hearing someone say something negative about your business baby is hurtful and frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Before you buy a franchise in your area, it’s important to look at what’s being said. Most customers won’t differentiate your business from another franchise in the area. If one franchise already has a bad reputation, you might need to be proactive in changing your company’s image during your grand opening.
If you’ve recently opened your doors and are hearing some negative reviews while your employees are going through the learning curve, you’ll need to do some damage control.
Here are three ways to handle negative reviews online and turn your franchise’s reputation around.
#1. Be Proactive
No matter whether you’re thinking about buying a franchise in your area or you’ve just opened your doors, it’s important to look at what’s being said about your business on a local level. Even if the infraction did not happen at your store, it can still affect your sales.
Don’t wait for negative reviews to pop up in your notifications or newsfeeds. Most of the time, a customer won’t tell you directly when she’s had a negative experience with your business or a neighboring franchise. Instead, she’ll tell her friends on Twitter or shout it from the rooftops in your local Facebook groups. It’s up to you to listen and correct it.
It’s tempting to let the negative review slide – especially if the review happened because of a different franchise in your area. This is dangerous to the branding of your franchise (or future franchise) in your area. Not responding to negative reviews is one of the biggest mistakes franchise owners make.
People complain because they want to feel heard. Deepen the experience your customer has with your business by responding cordially and empathetically to each negative review. Show the customer you’ve listened by reiterating her concern. Then, offer a solution.
Many franchise owners shy away from responding because they’re afraid it’ll legitimize the complaint. This isn’t the case. If you respond with empathy and explain the situation, others will hear your side of the story. This is your chance to polish your franchise’s brand image locally and get more customers through your doors.
#3. Understand Your Customer’s Needs
The solution you offer will vary depending on the customer’s complaint. It’s important to read between the lines and understand what she wants.
Some customers might want a free meal while others will simply want an apology or explanation. Look closely at what your customer is saying in her negative review of your business and then react in the way you think she’d most appreciate.
This is a guessing game but it’s one you can win with a little bit of finesse. If you’re not sure what your customer wants, dig a little bit. Ask how you can correct the situation. She’ll tell you what will make her happy.
Keeping Negative Reviews at Bay
Change your mindset about negative reviews. Instead of seeing them as damaging to your business, consider these reviews an opportunity to build your brand. The faster and better you respond, the more likely it is that you’ll turn a customer’s poor experience into a positive.