Having one of your employees provide poor customer service is something that keeps small business owners up at night – even if these bad experiences are few and far between, when handled improperly, they could tarnish what once was a good reputation. This is especially true if the customer posts a bad review online.

Handling these situations can be tough. It’s hard not to take it personal when someone talks bad about your business. There have even been some instances where business’ have gone so far as to sue customers who left a bad review. Lashing out at the customer is never the answer.

We recommend taking a more thoughtful approach to improving customer service. You should do what you can to win the customer back rather than further aggravating them. Below are five steps that will help your business deal with negative feedback.

1. Re-emphasize customer service

I’m sure all of your employees are trained on proper customer service techniques when they are hired. But it doesn’t hurt to offer a refresher training every once in awhile to remind them why it is important to focus on customer service.

Consumers today have a lot of choices. If they have a bad experience, it could turn them off of your business permanently. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Dimensional Research, 59% of respondents would stop buying from a business in the future if they had a bad experience.

Communication is one of the most important customer service skills you should emphasize with your employees. How many poor customer service experiences arise as a result of miscommunication? If your employees are focused on clearly and concisely communicating with your customers, many of these negative experiences can be avoided.

2. Be quick to apologize

Whether online or in person, it’s important that you acknowledge any mistakes that might have been made by your employees and offer an apology. A simple “I’m sorry” can go a long way toward smoothing things over with the customer and winning them back. If you’re responding to a negative review online, future customers will see that you are listening and are willing to do what is in your power to make it right.

3. Offer a solution

It’s one thing to apologize, but you should also try and fix the problem. If you don’t, your apology will ring hollow and you could end up further frustrating your customer. That’s why when you extend the apology, you must also offer a solution to the problem. This will show the customer that you have thought about the situation and aren’t just giving lip service to a complaint.

4. Use feedback to improve processes

Even though dealing with poor customer service can be rough, there is some good that can come from it. All feedback is good feedback. When customers say positive things about your business, it reinforces that your processes are working correctly. Negative feedback, on the other hand, could open your eyes to processes that you thought were working but are actually broken.

According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, only 1 in 26 customers will take the time to complain publicly. That’s why when they do, you need to take the feedback seriously. Look at what they are saying. Find out if it was an isolated incident or a larger problem that needs addressing. Doing so will ensure future problems can be avoided and ultimately result in a better experience for all of your customers.

5. Monitor online feedback

To ensure you are capturing all of your customer feedback online, you should implement an online review management platform. Doing so will allow you to monitor and respond to all of your online reviews and feedback from a single location. Streamlining this process will save your team countless hours scouring the internet looking for new reviews.

Podium helps improve poor customer service

Download our new ebook, “Turning a Negative Into a Positive: A How-to Guide for Responding to Negative Reviews.” The ebook will teach you best practices for responding to negative reviews, show you how negative reviews can actually improve your business operations, and help you discover how an online review management platform enables your staff to quickly and easily respond to negative reviews.