No matter how seamlessly you attempt to run your business, customer complaints are bound to arise. However, while we try our best to preemptively limit issues, these less-than-favorable opportunities allow you to show shoppers that you truly care. Yes, by effectively handling eCommerce complaints and negative reviews, you’ll weather conflicts with ease and potentially regain loyal, life-long clients. Today, we’ll discuss the 5 ways in which you can do just that.

How to Best Manage eCommerce Client Complaints & Conflicts

  1. Maintain a calm tone.
  2. Keep a positive attitude.
  3. Apologize, assist, and assure.
  4. Provide multiple solutions.
  5. Document and track.

1. Maintain a Calm Tone

When someone leaves a negative review on your site, it’s easy to let your emotions take control and quickly fire back a sassy response. However, before saying anything that you’ll regret, take a moment to calm down and think.

Try to view the alleged issue from your client’s perspective. Is what they’re saying true — even if just in part? Might they potentially feel hurt or taken advantage of by your brand? How you respond can make or break future relationships — not only with the customer in question but with bystanders to the conversation, too.  

So, whether on a public forum or in a private message, always remain kind and focus on a solution. Never retaliate or allow hurt feelings to dictate your response to a customer. If you need to, step away from the situation and do something to help you calm down. Then, once you’re in a better frame of mind, you can carefully craft a response that reduces and resolves conflict.  

2. Keep a Positive Attitude

When it comes to handling complaints, your attitude matters, as consumers can easily pick up on a negative disposition. At best, aloofness gives the appearance that your brand doesn’t care about its consumers. At worst, your negativity can be perceived as rudeness, and turn clients into active opponents of your company. However, by maintaining an appropriate level of positivity, you earn the opportunity to make the situation right and potentially gain back the customer.  

On the other hand, positivity is important within a company, too. Though client confrontation stings a bit, letting one instance affect your attitude for the rest of the day (or more!) can negatively impact productivity, team morale, and client communications later on, too. Keep in mind that, unfortunately, not all of your customers will always be 100% pleased. However, once you do your best to resolve a situation, simply take a breath, move on, and keep positive.

3. Apologize, Assist, and Assure

Now that we’ve discussed the importance of tone and attitude, it’s time to properly construct your reply. Many business owners look to the “Three A’s” to create a perfect response: Apologize, Assist, then Assure.

First, apologize. You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) ramble on for paragraphs expressing your remorse, but a brief, yet sincere apology first thing shows empathy in regard to the client’s inconvenience. Next, offer assistance. We’ll discuss some practical ways to help in the following section, but, when doing so, it’s best to provide worthwhile and immediate solutions.

Finally, at the end of your message, assure the client of the actions you will take to prevent the situation from recurring. Let them know that, to the extent of which you have control, things won’t happen again as they did the first time. For future matters beyond your immediate authority (like shipping delays or stock-chain disruptions) promise to right any wrongs as quickly as they arise.  

4. Provide Multiple Solutions

Not all customers hope to achieve the same results by leaving a negative critique. By proposing multiple solutions from which the customer can then choose, you let them pick what best solves the problem.

For example, perhaps a shopper leaves a negative review on your social media account concerning the inaccurate color portrayal of a blouse they purchased. You could respond by offering either a small percentage discount code for their next purchase or by waiving their return/restock fees if they choose to send the blouse back. Then, let the customer choose. If they needed this blouse in a specific color to match another item already owned, she may prefer the waived return fees. However, perhaps the shopper doesn’t mind the color too much, and wants to keep it anyway; in that case, a discount on another purchase will definitely resolve the situation and convey your apologies.

By providing multiple solutions and letting your customer choose, you give them back some power — which is often what customers feel they lost when presented with a less-than-favorable online shopping experience. Just be sure to use clear language so the customer knows that they can choose one solution, not all of them.        

5. Document and Track

Though you may be tempted to banish negative customer experiences to the back of your mind, conflicts often highlight opportunities for growth. By documenting the complaints you receive, you can identify areas of your business that require some refinement. Then, you can fix trending issues to increase future customer satisfaction.

Plus, it’s helpful to keep track of the customers with which you’ve corresponded regarding negative circumstances. It may not feel great to reach out to someone who was displeased with you, but by going above and beyond to apologize again and make sure everything is handled to their satisfaction, you leave a positive, professional image in their minds.

Effectively Handle eCommerce Complaints & Negative Reviews to Minimize Conflict & Gain Loyal Customers

Dealing with customer complaints is never fun. However, by doing so intentionally and effectively, you can turn negative experiences into loyalty-building opportunities. Yes, by calmly and positively providing a well-crafted, solution-filled response, and carefully documenting and tracking complaints, you’ll show shoppers that you truly care — and that’s something a customer cannot resist.