How to Respond to Consistent Negative Clients

Negative reviews. Just the mention of that phrase is bound to make business owners cringe. As I’ve previously mentioned, however, responding to negative reviews is an essential task that each and every business needs to take seriously. Remember, online and word-of-mouth reviews will affect your reputation and cash flow.

When dealing with negative reviews it’s important that you take the following steps:

  • Monitor online reviews with tools like Hootsuite, Google Alerts, and BrightLocal. They will notify you whenever your business is mentioned online so that you can respond in a timely manner.
  • Before responding to any reviews, take a deep breath and then respond to every review. Don’t get defensive or passive aggressive. Just offer a genuine apology and make amends with the customer.
  • If the customer is wrong, you can apologize without actually saying ‘sorry.’ For example, you could say “How frustrating that your package arrived damaged.”
  • Keep your apology brief and to the point.
  • If the conversation lingers, take it behind closed doors. Instead of letting the exchange play out publicly on Twitter, continue the discussion through email or direct message. If you realize that the customer is already gone, there’s no need to drag this out longer.

But, what if you keep receiving negative reviews from clients and customers? Either you’ve made a viable enemy or there’s something terribly wrong on your end.

Do You Spot Any Patterns?

Let’s say that you keep receiving negative reviews about shipments arriving late. You know the problem. So, how can you resolve it? Are the orders being delayed to the shipping department? If so, how can you speed that up? Is your shipping partner the one responsible? Consider finding a different company. Do you just simply need more time to ship out goods? Extend the arrival date.

Simply put, if your clients spot a problem, inform them that you’re looking into the matter and working on a resolution.

Listen and Make a Change

Continuing from the first step, you have to listen to your customers and clients. For example, for years customers complained that Domino’s pizza was comparable to cardyard. Yikes. While Dominos was large enough to absorb the reviews, the company realized that it was time for a change. The company changed its pizza recipe and encouraged customers to try the new recipe and leave feedback on social media.

As CEO Patrick Doyle stated, “You can either use negative comments to get you down, or you can use them to excite you and energize your process of making a better pizza. We did the latter.”

Listening and responding to negativity is just one part of the solution. If there’s a pattern of failure on your end, you need to address it and welcome the feedback from your customers.

Know Who You’re Dealing With

According to the University of Florida, there are five common types of complainers:

  • The Meek Customer. These customers usually do not complain. Because of this, you may have to work harder to elicit a response.
  • The Aggressive Customer. This is the customer that complains often, and isn’t afraid to be loud about it. You must listen extensively and ask: “what else?” You most also promise to solve the problem.
  • The High-Roller Customer. This customer expects the best, which means that they’re willing to pay for it. Will complain within reason. This customer wants results, so listen carefully and look for a resolution.
  • The Rip-Off Customer. These are the customers who just looking to get something for free. Make sure that you have data to backup your response and keep asking “What can I do to make things right?”
  • The Chronic Complainer Customer. This customer is never satisfied; which means they’re very frustrating to deal. Be patient and listen sympatically and offer a sincere apology.

For freelancers, they’ll likely encounter difficult clients like:

  • The Scope Creeper. The client who keeps adding items to a project.
  • The Reluctant Payer. This is the client who refuses to pay on-time.s.
  • The Critic. The client who is overly critical of your work.
  • The Miscommunicator. This is the client who can’t explain or understand information regarding a project.
  • The Verbal Abuser. Probably the worst client to deal with. This is the individual who condensing and unprofessional.

Why is this important?

While these are the most extreme types of examples, if you understand the type of customer or client you’re dealing, the better you and your customer service team can handle their review. You may actually discover that one of the biggest and most frequent negative reviews that you receive is your poor customer service. Understanding the customer’s pain points can help you make improvements in this area.

Build a Positive Reputation

You can avoid negativity in the first place by delivering top-notch products, service, and customer service. As the motto goes, don’t overpromise and under deliver. If you are expected to meet a deadline by a certain date, then make sure that you have done so.

Get Paid and Give Them the Pink Slip

Sometimes you and client or customer just don’t work well together. And, that’s alright. Make sure that you get paid for your products or services and fire them in a polite and professional manner.

It’s not always fun firing a client, but not having to deal with the consistent negativity is going to relive a lot stress so that you can focus on your other clients.