Handling Negative Customer Reviews for B2B Companies

Negative reviews don’t mean your B2B business is bad or that you are doing something wrong.

b2b bad review processHow the review is handled has a much greater impact to prospective clients than what the review says. Being proactive, genuine and supportive when responding to negative online reviews can build loyal, long-term clients by showcasing your exceptional customer service.

Follow these simples guidelines to turn the negativity around and provide outstanding customer care.

Best practices for handling negative B2B reviews

1. Assess the negative review

Before replying right away, take the time needed to assess the negative review and do some research.

  • Who should respond? Depending on the level of irritation and frustration present in the bad review, escalate the response to the president of your B2B company. A reply from an owner or president has more weight and will demonstrate to the upset customer that their issue is being taken seriously.
  • Client history. If possible, view the customer’s purchase history so you are familiar with the situation.
  • Don’t ignore the review.  Choosing to not respond at all to a bad review will lead the customer and other readers to believe your company doesn’t care about customer satisfaction.

2. Never reply with a hot-head

Acknowledging the negative comment quickly is important, but never reply with a hot head. Instead, take the time to cool down, and then craft a reply. Responding within 48 hours of the review being posted is best. Angry and lengthy replies will only encourage an argument between yourself and the customer.

Angry or hot-headed replies include: implying the customer is lying or wrong, listing reasons why the customer is wrong, using rude or inappropriate language, denying the situation happened, getting defensive, or insulting the customer in any way.

3. Craft a reply

Keep your answer short and sweet, and explain to the customer, in understandable terms, your plan of action to set things right.

A. Apologize

Start off by apologizing that the customer experienced a faulty industrial product or bad service. Acknowledge that his or her feelings are valid and show you care about the relationship. Be brief and apologetic, and attempt to move the conversation off-line.

Don’t get defensive and don’t give excuses. There may be a series of events that caused the issue to occur, but the frustrated customer doesn’t care about that. Stick to apologizing and what can be done to make the issue better.

B. Make it right

It is not always expected that a negative reviewer receives something from the company to assuage their disappointment. A response to the negative review is, very often, enough, especially if there is nothing that can be done to “fix” the situation. When something needs to be done to amend the relationship, an offer could be in the form of free return shipping, a new product, a discounted product or a personalized alternative.

C. Promise a better future

Make it clear you want to solve the issue and make sure it doesn’t happen again in the future.

Initial reply example:

“*Name*, we are truly sorry about the problems you experienced. We understand downtime is expensive and very frustrating. We sincerely care about customer satisfaction and making any problems right. One of our expert technicians will be calling you before the end of the day to discuss your experience. We would like to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.”

4. Take the conversation offline

A friendly customer service representative who is knowledgeable about the customer’s history should get in contact with the customer as soon as possible after the initial reply. The conversation should focus on getting all the information about the customer’s experience, and if possible, offer a solution. Remember to continue to be polite even if they are frustrated and angry. Gathering all the facts from their side and yours will allow you to piece together exactly why the problem happened and the best solution.

5. Post initial reply

In some cases, a highly frustrated customer may continue to bash you or your company online. It is important not to go back and forth with this customer publicly. It will likely lead them to say more negative public remarks. Instead, send them a private message and reiterate that you would like to attempt to fix the problem.

Private message example:

“Hello *name*, we apologize again about your bad experience. Please give us a call if there is anything else we can do to improve your experience with *company name*. We strive for happy customers and will do anything in our power to make it right.”

Online reputation management has become an integral part of any B2B online marketing strategy. Reviews are a vital piece of the B2B conversion process and B2B search engine optimization strategy. Most smart shoppers no longer make a purchase without first checking reviews and doing their research, and search engines such as Google acknowledge that. In fact, Google is more likely to show businesses with higher star reviews at the top of geo-located search queries. So, make sure to engage with both good and bad B2B customer reviews following the best practices laid out above as part of your online marketing strategy. Reviews from happy B2B customers and handling negative reviews will go a long way in showcasing your excellent customer service and bubbling up in related search results.

Need help with your B2B online marketing strategy or parts of it? Contact us for more information!

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About the author

Online marketing strategist on a mission to help B2B businesses effectively reach their target audiences and convert them.

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