Customer Management

How to Respond to a Negative Review

December 1, 2020
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As many business owners know, negative reviews are an unfortunate part of doing business. Despite your best efforts, not everyone will always be happy. And may jump online to let other people know.

That doesn’t mean you have to let these negative reviews bring you or your company down.

By learning the right ways to handle these comments, you can help decrease the impact of these reviews and show that you’re a customer service rockstar.

Negative reviews suck, but you gotta respond

Research shows that 97% of consumers who read online reviews make sure to read a business’s response to a review. Further, 71% of consumers said they’re more likely to use a company that has responded to online reviews.

That means that what you say in response to a negative review can have a huge impact.

Simply put, it’s your chance to defend yourself and tell your side of the story. And if you do it correctly (and within 24 hours), Yelp estimates that 33% of reviewers will actually upgrade their review.

When, and where, to remove reviews

There are certain times when a negative review doesn’t merit your consideration. For example, you should not engage with a review if it is:

  • Patently untrue
  • For the wrong business
  • Makes a personal attack on you or your employees

Rather, contact the site where the review is posted to see if it can be taken down.

It might sound crazy, but in some cases, companies can go on a negative-review rampage and bash their top competitors. They may even be flooding their own page with positive reviews. You might also see this happening if you fire an employee on bad terms.

If any of these scenarios happen, it should be easy enough to have the review removed. Just contact Google, Yelp or whatever site the review is on to let them know it’s not an accurate representation of your business.

Tips for responding to negative reviews

Now that you know a little more about negative review basics, it’s time to tackle how to actually respond to these reviews.

1. Own up to the problem and apologize

Businesses who can take the heat, and say they’re sorry, may see a huge benefit. Research shows that 16% of businesseswho answer complaints on review sites see a boost in customer advocacy.

This doesn’t mean you need to take responsibility for every bad part of the customer’s experience. Just don’t try to weasel your way out of the situation. Give an honest apology and admit that things went awry. Explain that this isn’t the norm and that you’ll use this feedback to try and improve in the future.

2. Don’t get pulled into a fight

This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to lose your cool when you’re behind a computer screen. Always keep things professional, even if you feel like arguing with the customer.

In a survey by GoodFirms, 92.6% of companies said that maintaining a positive reputation and online brand reputation was highly important for business. While you might feel a need to defend your business, especially if the review was less than polite, keep things formal to show other customers how you respond to criticism.

3. Offer alternative contact info

You know the catchphrase, “cash me outside?” Well, leaving your contact info for customers in a response to a negative review is sort of like that. It takes the “fight,” so-to-speak, and moves it from a public forum to a private setting.

Since 83% of U.S. consumers prefer dealing with customer service issues over digital channels, a personal email might be a great thing to provide. That way, you can hash out serious issues and come to a resolution that both parties agree with. Then, you can make a note that the issue was resolved in your response.

4. Try to solve the problem

If the customer was unhappy with an installation or didn’t like the attitude of their maintenance technician, do what you can to make it right.

Offer to come by personally and inspect the issue. If possible, you may even give them a discount or refund on the service or product. Across the U.S., businesses have lost over $1.6 trillion because of poor customer service, so this is an area where you can really cut down on these losses.

Even if you do end up losing that customer, showing others that you have superior customer service might make help convert them.

5. Thank them for the feedback — and be personal

At the end of the day, a negative review is a chance for you to right a wrong. Even if it was just a perceived wrong in the customer’s eyes, their comments still help you understand their point of view.

That’s why you need to give them personalized thanks for their opinion. Just copying and pasting a stock reply won’t cut it, as 38% of customers say they had a good customer experience because of personalization. Craft a personal, cordial reply to show you appreciate their views.

How not to respond to a negative review

There are a few things to always avoid with negative reviews. These include:

  • Being defensive or condescending.
  • Insinuating the reviewer is mistaken or foolish.
  • Crafting a long-winded response.
  • Using curse words or other offensive language.

Negative reviews are your chance to shine

When you use these above tips, you’re likely to change that negative review to a positive one. Show that you are listening, and customers will appreciate it. Go get ’em!

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