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How Uniform Stores Should Respond To Complaints

8 min read
Ryan Quinn August 10, 2016

As a uniform retailer and small business owner, it can become increasingly obvious how important word-of-mouth marketing can be for your brand’s identity and bottom line. And in an age of tweets and Yelp reviews, complaints against your company and bad online reviews can leave a nasty scar on your reputation. Sometimes you might feel like these complaints are unwarranted; your company has done nothing wrong, but for whatever reason a reviewer wanted to inflict unnecessary harm on the business in spite.

Regardless the motive, justified or not, an important rule to remember is that you can’t please everyone all the time; you will have uniform customers that will never fully be satisfied. And unfortunately, with the speed at which news travels today, one bad customer is can affect you more than a hundred happy ones.

Consumers are increasingly relying on reviews on sites like Yelp to shape their decision. They might look up reviews of a coffee shop before they venture out to try it for themselves. Because of this, the quality and quantity of these reviews can significantly affect your ROI. With reviews being an essential part of your company’s reputation and livelihood, it’s important to understand how to respond to customer complaints. In this article, we’re highlighting five ways to put out the fire of a bad review before it burns your business to the ground.

1. Don’t Respond in Anger

Responding to a negative review in the heat of the moment is one of the worst things you can do as a business owner. Look, we get it — this is YOUR company. If someone makes a statement about it that you find to be untrue, malicious, or incredibly negative, you might get defensive.

First, take a moment (or five) to compose yourself before you respond to a complaint. Often, reviewers who had a less-than-stellar experience might slightly exaggerate their story to heighten the severity of the review. This can be incredibly frustrating and embarrassing, but remember, once your reply is on the internet, it can never be erased. Be professional with your response and always avoid replies made out of anger or aggression. Replying in a defensive or belittling manner can compromise your business's reputation and worsen an already bad review. Instead, acknowledge the issue and move toward a remedy. If applicable, offer to make things better with a refund or special offer.

Consumers know you’re human and mistakes happen. They also are aware tat no business is perfect, so instead of hiding mistakes, it’s best to own up to them. When you apologize to a reviewer on social media, you acknowledge the mistake and take ownership. This also prevents the customer from continuing to blame your company for the issue and shows others reading the review that you care about customer satisfaction.

Once you’ve addressed the complaint, you can then focus on the real task at hand — finding a solution to the problem. For example, if there is an overwhelming amount of returns on a particular uniform or item, you should address all complaints individually and then consider speaking to the manufacturer because clearly there is a disconnect or defect in the way the product is made and/or how it is described on the online store. Another best practice is to then post on your social media channels, letting your customers know that you’ve recognized the issue and are working to get it fixed.

2. Be Timely

Monitoring your reviews allows you to respond to negative (and positive) posts in a timely manner. While it’s best to take a few moments to create a calm reply, never wait too long to respond to a complaint. Additionally, make sure to reply directly on the comment or review.

An industry best practice is to respond within 24 hours of a negative review. Addressing issues immediately will highlight to the customer that you’re attentive and looking to resolve the issue. Even if you don’t immediately have the answer to the problem, you can simply let the customer know that their complaint has been heard, you are on the case, and someone will contact them within 24 hours.

3. Offer a Resolution

Many reviewers take to social media and review sites to air their grievances with a certain not-so-great experience they’ve had. When you reach out to the unhappy customer (in a timely manner) to offer a resolution, the act of trying to make it better tends to mitigate the issue. Offer your apologies, and encourage the reviewer to give your uniform business a second chance, perhaps with a full or partial refund, or an incentive to come back, like a “15% off your next purchase” offer.

4. Personalize Your Response

And, when possible, get even more bonus points if the response is from the CEO, owner or manager. Small things like that will make the reviewer feel as if their opinion was important enough to be handled by someone in charge. It’ll also show the reviewer and others keeping an eye on this complaint that you take customer service and satisfaction seriously and you want to make sure all clients finish doing business with you, be it online or in-store, on a positive note.  

When you personalize your response it adds a human touch. Avoid sending emails or communications from customerservice@yourbusiness.com. Address all complaints from a real email address so the reviewer knows that an actual person is working with them to resolve the issue.

5. Take Conversations Offline When Possible

Like it or not, all communications on social media are in the public eye, and often when dealing with negative comments, this can prompt others to join in. The best course of action is to take the conversation offline so you can talk to the person one on one. This prevents the situation from escalating, and also helps calm the customer, because you’re working with him or her personally to resolve the problem.

Of course, don’t ignore the review on social media. First, respond so that everyone watching knows the issue has been addressed. For example, you could say something like “Hey John, sorry to hear you’re unhappy with those steel-toe boots. Can you message us your number so we can make this right on our end? Thanks!” This moves the conversation offline, but shows those not directly involved in the situation that the issue has been handled.

As a uniform retailer, you want your business to do well. You crave success, and you wish that every single transaction was seamlessly perfect. You know that the uniforms and quality of products you carry are exemplary, but sometimes reviews on or offline can throw a wrench in the gears. Don’t let one bad review define what your brand stands for. Address it properly and in a timely manner to diffuse any harsh feelings.

Ultimately, if you sell great quality uniforms, and consistently provide your customers with the best service you possibly can, complaints should be few and far between. However, when they happen (and eventually, they’ll happen), take those negative comments as opportunities for improvement.

UniformMarket is an expert in the uniform industry. Contact us today to see how we can grow your online uniform store.

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