Doing business in the Social Media Era means you're bound to get some negative reviews. In our industry, sometimes the deal goes south for various reasons, and you will have an unhappy customer. Heck, sometimes people aren't happy even after a successful result. Right? Raise your hand if that has ever happened to you. You're not alone. The mortgage transaction can be stressful, frustrating, and delayed at times which does not make for a great experience. And with the rise of social media everyone now has a massive bullhorn at their disposal to tell everyone about it. This is why it is important to have a plan in place to respond to negative reviews. Below I will share my rules for responding to negative reviews.
First, you should ALWAYS respond to negative reviews. I see people and companies make this mistake all the time. They leave it hanging there like a dirty gym towel on a shower rod smelling up the place. A review is always half of the story, whether good or bad. It is one person's perspective, and when it is a negative one, you need to make sure you respond.
Second, is you NEVER respond in a combative manner. Do not get into a public argument with the reviewer, as it will never make you look good and will yield no value. Simply acknowledge their comments, without agreeing with them. You take the high road, be the bigger person and show some empathy. Doing this will also help your Social Proof in regards to being a professional who cares about their business.
Real-life example from Facebook:
Hi (Name of Borrower). We are very sorry to hear you had such a bad experience. We always strive to do best by our clients. If you wish to expand on what went wrong with your loan, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the best # and time to reach you at. I will personally have someone reach out to you to get more information.
Maybe you didn't drop the ball. Maybe you did. Maybe it was the Real Estate Agent. It doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. You simply need to acknowledge their frustration. You are letting them know that someone is going to reach out to them and hear them out. It is a personal response and not a canned public comment, which is key. 80% of the time the reviewer won't respond or contact you directly. However, you end up looking great with a tempered and professional response. Win/Win.
The third rule is to be consistent in your responses. This doesn't mean to respond the same way each time, but you always want to respond in a professional manner as talked about above. As consumers look at reviews, you want to show that you care about your business, again Social Proof. Responding to reviews, good and bad, is an element of the consumer experience you should be striving for in your business.
The fourth and final rule is to inject some humor when possible. Nothing diffuses a tense situation, like some well-placed humor. I have had a great run in turning haters into fans after the communication took on a humorous tone. That is the ultimate goal and now you have just turned a negative into a positive.
Here is real-life example from Glassdoor:
Title: Loan Officers Run
Comment: Enough of the lies
Dear Runaway LO, We are sorry that you did not have a great experience with our company. We always want to do the very best by our employees, believe it or not. That is why we have some great reviews. Studies show that it is probably not the best tactic to resort to name calling. So maybe just say "pants on fire"; or something of the like. At any time feel free to contact "you know who" directly and we can address your grievances. We do wish you best with your new company. Take care!
I got a few emails after that one as you can imagine, but they all ended up with a positive result. In fact my response was mentioned to me during a loan officer recruit meeting as one of the reasons we stood out.
At the end of the day, you will never please everyone all of the time. There isn't a company around that has 100% satisfaction from its customers or employees. You can't control how people feel and how they choose to vent. What you can control, however, is how you respond. By following the best practices above you can develop a creative response plan that, in some cases, can actually end up being the reason why a consumer does business with you or why someone comes to work for you.