Reviews are an essential part of a business’s presence on the internet. They help potential customers determine whether they want to enter your doors and pay for your services. You and your employees can try your hardest to please everyone, but it’s a tall task. Someone will leave, go home and write a negative review.
Here are eight tips on handling negative carwash reviews.
1. Respond to the customer
The first step in handling a negative review is to respond to the customer. Reputation management is vital for how people view your carwash. Responding to the complaints shows that your business cares and will take the time to hear out the issue. The goal of responding to complaints is to turn a negative into a positive because consumers will watch how you handle these comments.
It may seem odd, but negative reviews can create a positive outcome for your business. Websites like TripAdvisor say that responding to reviews, even negative ones, can help your company’s digital presence.1 Typically, when a business responds to comments on review sites, they see a 12% increase in reviews and a 0.12 increase in their stars, which can make a big difference on sites that round up and down.
Another factor to consider is how quickly you respond. You don’t need someone to sit around scrolling through review sites all day, but a prompt response within 24 to 48 hours is essential. You’ll want to acknowledge the negative comment as soon as possible. Typically, people who leave reviews feel strongly, so quickly responding to a bad review can lower the temperature.
2. Thank them
You should include a few things in your response, and one of them is a thank you. Acknowledging the review and thanking people for their critique shows you’re genuine about hearing out every customer, the ones with both good and bad things to say. It won’t fix the problem but showing gratitude can make the customer feel slightly better when reading your response.
Thanking the customer shows you want to get down to the problem and resolve it as soon as possible. Humanizing yourself and the reviewer can go a long way in making your carwash seem more credible and personable. Research shows businesses that respond to customers appear 1.7 times more trustworthy than shops that do not.2
3. Make an apology
Now that you’ve made the customer feel seen with their complaint, it’s time to take the next step in your response: an apology. Most of the time, writing an apology is the go-to tactic for a business owner because it saves time. Do you know the saying that the customer is always right? They may or might not be in this instance, but apologizing will show upfront that you take responsibility for what happened.3
You may be unaware of the experience this customer had at your carwash. The bad review could have stemmed from something the consumer did wrong or an employee’s mishap. Regardless, someone had a bad experience, and the buck stops with you as a business owner. Owning up to the mistake will help calm them down.
4. Explain what went wrong
After the apology, another step you can take in managing a bad review is explaining what exactly went wrong, if applicable. If you can lay out precisely what happened, you may make the customer feel slightly better about the situation because you’re showing you acknowledge the issue and are aware of what took place. A machine could have malfunctioned, or an employee may have made a mistake.
If you decide to go this route, you must tell the customer what happened on your side instead of justifying the actions. Customers don’t want excuses. They want accountability for what took place. People bring their pride and joy vehicles to a carwash for detailing and cleaning, so a lot is on the line for customers.
5. Discuss future actions
Accountability and apology are two “As” customers like to hear, but there’s a third one that can put your review over the top — action. You’ve apologized for the incident and accepted responsibility for what happened. Now, if you can, lay out steps to show what you plan to do in the future to prevent such an experience from reoccurring. If it can happen to one customer, it can happen to another.
6. Suggest direct contact
Once you’ve laid out everything you want in your apology, give the customer a call to action. The best way to do this is to include your phone number, email address or any mode of contact that works for you. You can and should respond to negative feedback on review sites, but the situation can stay between you, the customer and any employee involved.
Discussing the negative feedback directly with the unhappy customer saves time because it provides a space where they can air their grievances. Hearing their voice means there will be less confusion about any details of the situation. This strategy also helps people from outside the predicament avoid getting involved when they don’t need to.
7. Ask for redemption
In times of adversity, a person’s response matters as much, if not more, than the initial situation. When you face a negative review of your carwash, one way to keep the positivity high is to ask the customer for a second chance. Let them come to your store and tell them you’ll personally handle their next visit on the house. One bad experience shouldn’t ruin a customer’s view of your business. Try to earn their trust again because you never know what influence they’ll have on others.4
8. Set up social media accounts
You know how to manage a bad review with a reply, so now you should look to build your presence on review websites and social media as a whole. More responses generally lead to more reviews, so you’ll want to create accounts on sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp and more.
Expanding your business’s digital media presence with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram can be a fruitful venture. These accounts offer another way for you to interact with customers and build your brand. Many of your patrons likely use these sites already. Social media users have grown to over 4.5 billion in 2022 and will continue to rise.5
You’ve worked hard to build your carwash into what it is now. You put a lot of effort into hiring the right employees and creating an atmosphere of quality service, but not every customer sees it that way. Most companies face negative comments on review platforms. Use these eight tips to handle them and build your business moving forward.
Oscar Collins is the founder and editor-in-chief of Modded, where he writes about cars, car trends and auto news. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for frequent updates on his work.