Help! A negative review of your store! Sooner or later you will have to deal with it. Do not shoot in the defense. There are better ways to deal with it and still satisfy a customer.

“The service is bad” you read about your store on Google, Facebook or some review website. According to the customer he was not treated right and makes his complaint on the internet. Your first reaction is anger or disappointment. As a shopkeeper you work overtime to be able to serve and satisfy customers. And if they are not it is naturally becomes a sensitive string. But wait a moment to react!

lars woordersrichard_derks_online_marketingsuzanne weusten


Whether you run a web shop or a physical store online reviews of customers shouldn’t be ignored. You can register at websites such as Trustpilot or Kiyoh where customers can then give your store a score. The higher your score is, the greater the chance that other customers are willing to buy something in your store. Fortunately, most reviews are positive, but there are also negative ones. Why are they extra hard?

This has to do with the so-called ‘negativity bias’: our brain is programmed so that it remembers negative experiences better than positive ones. “In prehistoric times it was very useful from evolution,” says psychologist and publicist Suzanne Weusten. “For example, if you ate something wrong this mechanism would prevent you from becoming ill again. But in our time it is no longer necessary to focus on the negative. Her advice is:” First of all, it is good to be aware that negative comments have more impact than positive ones. And do not forget that many things are going well, so do not concentrate on the negative. ”


However, this does not mean that you can deal with criticism ‘loosely’. Advice number one for a negative online review is: take the customer seriously. Weusten: “Try to understand the customer. He wants to tell his story and get recognition for the displeasure. Admit that something went wrong. Perhaps something obvious, but sometimes forgotten is a reaction. Ignoring is not smart. Or even worse: removing the negative review, although this is not possible with most review websites. In addition, the reliability and transparency of such a review site run down sharply if you could (have) remove all negative comments. On your own Facebook page you can of course remove negative reviews. But obviously, that does not make happier the dissatisfied customer. It is always the best to respond to a comment on Facebook or a review on a website, so that other customers also see that you take this kind of comment seriously. Then choose a more personal approach and deal with the relevant customer, for example by telephone. Talking reduces the chance of misunderstandings. This is confirmed by Lars Woordes, marketing and communications manager of men’s fashion chain Jac Hensen: “We always contact a customer who has left a negative review. You notice that customers are friendlier on the phone. Usually they have more understanding when they hear the other side of the story. “An important piece of advice is: ask the right questions so you can find out what is really the cause of the negative review. For example: “What was your unpleasant experience as a customer?” Or, “What you think could have been better?”. And set it right or solve it for the customer. Woordes: “For us it is especially important that the customer is still satisfied. Eighty per cent of the customers for whom we solve a complaint, therefore withdraw their negative review. “Do not go into the defense. This often works counterproductive with the result that the customer becomes even more frustrated and there is a risk that something small might get out of hand. Weusten: “What helps in reading negative criticism is not taking this personally. It’s about your store or staff, but not about your personality, remember that. See criticism as a learning moment and embrace it. ”


Richard Derks from (online) marketing agency IIZT has developed a handy reminder for dealing with negative online reviews. His mnemonic works on the basis of the French word ‘amour (love). The “a” stands for “assertiveness”. Derks: “With that I want to say: stand behind your store. If you are not able to do that or you feel insecure then you lose. “The “m” stands for humanity. “Make the situation human. Do not hide behind systems that do not work, but react as a human “. “For example, if a return has not been properly processed due to an error in the system shopkeepers are usually talking about the ‘technical’ situation. While in reality that customer just wants to hear “how annoying that this has happened. We will solve it as soon as possible and do everything to prevent it from happening in the future.” The third letter, the “o”, is for “openness”. “Be open in your communication,” is the advice from Derks. “Do not talk about things. Be direct and clear. If you try to conceal something it will come back hard. “Derks uses the word ” u “in the word” amour “to indicate the importance of courtesy. “Always respond courteously, or politely.” “Finally, the “r” in the mnemonic stands for reasonableness. “Always keep it reasonable”. “If you keep these steps, it can not go wrong. Derks: “Even if the customer is unreasonable or angry, when you react according to this method you will always be in your position. Other customers will notice you respond neatly and professionally and that will have a positive impact on your store. ”


Sometimes a criticism relates to your staff. Then it is important to always check first whether criticism is justified. Woordes: “It is best not to speak to the employee right away, but first to hear the employee’s story. Our experience is that if you check it out, the situation is different than you initially thought. “So you can handle a review more smoothly internally “. It is also important to show self-confidence and to be open to criticism. Weusten: “If the atmosphere within a company is such that you can not and must not make mistakes, employees will find it more difficult to deal with this. But if mistakes can be made, we are all after all human, then staff members will also have less trouble hearing criticism. ”


If you want to avoid negative criticism, it is advisable to stay ahead of complaints. “Ask your customers for feedback and do not sit around waiting for them to complain,” Weusten advises. “Do a regular round of questions among your customers. Do not ask: what did you think? But ask two concrete questions, such as
“What are we doing well?” And “what could be better?”. That can yield a lot of useful information. “In short: realize that negative criticism is part of it and that it is important to keep an eye on the balance.” And remember: in the end (constructive) criticism makes your store better and you as an entrepreneur stronger.


You’re always welcome at Prinseneiland. Call us and reserve time for a first date. 020-6933131 or mail

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