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Karin Ballestrazze
 
September 25, 2014 | Customer Relationship Management (CRM), eCommerce | Karin Ballestrazze

Dealing With Customer Complaints Online

Dealing with disgruntled customers can be a challenge when running a business. Sometimes, something goes wrong with the transaction. The order gets shipped to the wrong address. The site goes down in the middle of checkout. The customer gets double-charged for his or her order. There are a lot of situations where shopping results in a mistake, and angry customers leave negative feedback or reviews on different sites. These reviews will stay up as long as the site exists and can easily detract your SEO by drawing attention to them rather than you. While it's important to acknowledge the existence of these complaints, you also need a plan to mitigate them in the near future. That way, you may be able to salvage the situation to your benefit and possibly make an angry customer happy.

Planning accordingly
According to Kerry Rego Consulting, one of the more important things to understand about Internet feedback is not that you have no control over this kind of response. It's that you never had any control over any kind of criticism to begin with. The way you are able to react to situations such as negative online reviews is simply different. Consumers may feel more compelled to be vocal and aggressive than they would be if they were talking to a person directly. Taking the time to understand this basic point makes it far easier for you to learn how and where your customers are coming from in any circumstance.

Once you accept that Internet feedback can and will be a lot different from a bad phone call, you need to make a plan to deal with these complaints, as suggested by Mike Blumenthal. At the same time, that means responding to reviews when it's clear you can deal with the issue by owning to the problem, explaining what went wrong, how it won't happen again, and then creating a remedy specific to the complainer in question. What helps is knowing how you can react to these complaints, which Search Engine Land recommends you examine. While most review sites will allow the winery to respond to reviews, some won't. Plus, only a few sites will allow you to delete and edit some of the more odious or trolling reviews, such as Google Places and InsiderPages.

Dealing with people
Of course, then there is the actual matter of dealing with the complaining person. Entrepreneur blog Hearpreneur notes that it's important to remember that in most cases, a complaining customer is not necessarily a problem but a chance to improve your customer experience. This is so that other customers at your winery won't suffer the same situation in the future. It's also essential to understand that consumers will believe a problem to be real if they think it is. In other words, it doesn't matter if they're wrong about something, only that their experience was a bad one. This is something learned from needing to listen to people as they go over their grievances. By hearing them out, it shows that not only you care, but that someone is clearly doing something about the problem.

More importantly, though, it's essentially to admit some fault in the matter. In an open forum like the Internet, people are more likely to agree with the person complaining, even if you're right and the complainer completely missed something in their complaint. Taking a stand against a customer publicly will likely backfire for various reasons. Apologizing for the mess up will alleviate the pressure placed on you by other wine lovers for making a mistake. It will give them the sense that you are able to address customer concerns with speed and efficiency, which will cause them to revisit your store and recommend you to other wine drinkers.

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