Although you work hard to offer an exceptional laundry experience for your laundromat patrons, you can’t always please everyone. Crowded facilities, broken down machines, injuries, bad customer service, and a variety of other situations can all leave your customers less than satisfied with your laundry facility. Unfortunately, today’s digital world means customers can easily share their dissatisfaction with the click of a button – reaching hundreds or even thousands of people. It’s no surprise that people research a business and product before they decide to engage, so negative online reviews can have a serious impact on your laundry business. So what is a savvy laundry investor like yourself supposed to do? Hopefully your laundromat is getting a lot of good feedback, but if a negative review or customer complaint pops up online, don’t worry. Try these tips for responding to negative reviews that can help diffuse the situation and improve your online presence.
1. Have a plan in place.
Preparation is key. While you can’t anticipate all the details that prompted the negative online post, you can have some guidelines and strategies ready to go. We’d recommend having the response plan clearly documented and laid out within an employee handbook. That way you or any employees can quickly resolve the issue – and avoid making the problem worse. You should note who on your team is in charge of responding and have a target response time (usually 24 hours) in place. It’s also important that you have a process for documenting the incident. You’ll want easy access to screen shots of posts, contact information, and other pertinent details that may be necessary if any legal or staff training issues arise.
2. Monitor online mentions and feedback.
You can’t know what’s being said about your laundry business if you aren’t actively spending time online. Knowing where your customers are active online can help you anticipate where a review is likely to pop up and allow you to be proactive in protecting your laundromat’s reputation. Google My Business, Yelp, Amazon, Facebook, and other social media platforms are popular platforms for customers to post feedback (good or bad) about your business. While monitoring these channels takes time, it is an important step in assuring your laundromat’s reputation long term. Google Alerts and online platforms like Hootsuite can also help you track online mentions of your laundry business, even when you aren’t tagged or notified.
3. Don’t remove or ignore negative comments.
While it may be tempting to hide or remove the bad review when possible, that’s rarely ever your best option. Most people understand that mistakes happen, so one or two negative reviews likely won’t deter someone from visiting your laundry business. What people care about is how you handle a situation. By removing a negative comment, you’re missing out on a golden opportunity to showcase your laundromat’s top notch customer service and personality to anyone who reads the review and your response.
4. Encourage offline engagement when possible.
Since online reviews can be seen by so many, it’s best to respond to the issue publically and then continue any interaction in a more private setting (like via a direct message, phone call, or in-person meeting). A short-and-sweet response letting the customer know they’ve been heard and that they can contact you to discuss the issue in greater detail usually does the trick. By continuing discussions in private, there’s less of a chance an issue will escalate publically online. As an added bonus, people are generally more civil in person than they are when they’re sitting in front of a computer screen.
5. Stay positive.
One of the most important things to remember when dealing with negative reviews is simply to stay positive. If a customer is using foul language or being inappropriate, don’t stoop to their level. Take a few minutes to step away from the screen, take a deep breath, and collect your thoughts if need be. Keep your response upbeat and civil, just like you would if you were talking to someone face-to-face. Even if the customer continues to be unhappy or negative, future customers who see the post will respect that your laundry business took the high road.
In the end, it’s important to go beyond the negative review and actually get at the root of the problem. While some online reviews may be unfounded or trivial, it’s important to take stock of what your customers are saying about your laundromat online. After all, your customers are the most important piece of your business. If you see recurring trends, like people consistently complaining about your outdated commercial washers and dryers or uncleanliness at your facility, you know what to make a priority moving forward.
We’d love to hear how you’ve handled negative online reviews and customer complaints at your laundromat. Connect with us on Facebook to share your stories and advice!