Having your customers review your business online is a great way to spread the word about how great you are, but those reviews aren’t always going to be positive.

No business can please every customer, it’s almost impossible, but how you handle negative reviews can mean the difference between a string of negativity or a story about resolution.

On Thursday morning we were sent a thought leadership piece from hosting giant, GoDaddy.

While this isn’t unusual in and of itself, the content of the piece was rather interesting. The point of the piece was to imbue GoDaddy’s learnings about dealing with negative customer reviews.

Upon further investigation, however, perhaps GoDaddy wasn’t the best source for this advice.

One of the key points, according to Go Daddy, was to monitor the platforms where folks may leave a review. That includes social media platforms, Google, and services such as Hello Peter.

Hello Peter, as you may be aware, is a platform where customers can comment on the experience they’ve had with a company. Companies are able to respond to these comments though we should note that responses require a firm pay a fee starting at R699 per month.

We bring this up because over on Hello Peter, Go Daddy is very absent.

The firm sports an average rating of 1.36 stars from 45 reviews, a Trust Index rating of 2.1 out of 10. While the firm does rank 14th out of 524 businesses we should point out that many of the firms below GoDaddy have two or fewer reviews.

A quick look at tweets directed to GoDaddy’s official support account, @GoDaddyHelp, reveals that folks are very upset about a lack of customer service. While the account does respond regularly, responses to those tweets often bring up even bigger issues for customers.

One of the more notable issues we spotted is how tricky it is to get hold of customer support from South Africa.

Over on TrustPilot we can see that while the firm has an average rating of 4.1 stars, there are some oddities afoot.

For example, TrustPilot reveals that GoDaddy typically takes one week to respond to negative reviews. These are reviews with a rating of one or two stars.

GoDaddy’s advice regarding responding to negative reviews?

“When customers leave a review or comment, they are generally looking for a response and they expect it to be quick. You should aim to respond to any negative reviews as quickly as you can—ideally on the same day it was received. Ignoring a negative review won’t make it go away, and the customer’s anger will fester the longer he or she waits for a response,” writes GoDaddy

Well that’s embarrassing.

But this presents a teachable moment because while GoDaddy has a bit of egg on its face, it’s given us the chance to point out what really matters when it comes to customer service.

And what really matters is clear communication.

Lockdown has presented a multitude of challenges for businesses but if you are dealing with customers, customer service doesn’t stop.

Take Telkom’s Twitter account for instance. All too often we see that account butt into conversations suggesting the participants contact Telkom with their query. What irks many folks about that is that whoever is behind that account is clearly not monitoring what is being said and is simply responding for the sake of it.

Respond to queries as quickly and correctly as you can. If your business can’t keep up, then your business needs to rethink how it engages with the folks who help you pay your bills.

We should also point out that if a customer has reached the point where they are willing to type out a review and post it online, you’ve mostly lost the fight at that stage and you are going to have to go above and beyond to change the tune.

We contacted GoDaddy about its advice and why it doesn’t seem to be taking it, the response we received is very diplomatic.

“GoDaddy welcomes customer feedback and the opportunity to support our customers and provide the guidance they need. As a global company, some of our social media handles (such as our Twitter account) serve the international market, reaching an audience of 20 million customers across multiple time zones. When it takes us a little while longer to respond, it usually means we are checking on the technology or product issues to give the customer a helpful solution. In many cases, we may be interacting with customers outside the social channel where they first raised the query. Our primary support channels and our telephone helpline or online chat feature, and we recommend customer start contacting us through one of these channels,” a GoDaddy spokesperson said.

Very confusing given GoDaddy was talking to us about reviews on third-party platforms, but then goes on to say that primary point of contact should be the customer support channel.

While we do agree that customer support should be the first port of call, customers will leave negative reviews when customer support has failed them time and time again. So, pointing people to customer service isn’t really the key here, it’s about solving the issue at hand.

But once again, it’s not just about saying sorry. One needs to understand why there is a problem, what the customer wants, shy away from making excuses and above all, own the problem until it is resolved.

Not every problem was created by the customer and similarly not every issue is your fault. How you handle the situation however is very much in your control.

Of course we are mindful that some customers will complain for the sake of complaining, but today we’re just talking about customers with genuine complaints and concerns.

There are of course tools one can use to monitor the sentiment of your brand online. These include Hootsuite, Google Alerts and many more. Those tools will simply tell you that folks are upset and changing their minds is up to how your business deals with those responses.

As much as we’d like to believe that negative sentiment can be waved away with a few emojis and some good reviews that you retweet, it requires action.

[Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash]