How to respond to negative reviews

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Christy Walker Small Business Advice, Social Media Leave a Comment

Just as social media extends your business’s reach, it also extends the reach of your customers. This can be stressful when someone is disgruntled and leaves a poor review, whether it’s on your website, Google, Yelp, or any other social media platform. This is part of why it’s important to monitor your social media. Engagement isn’t just about drawing customers in; it’s also about exerting control over your public image. If you don’t, you can be assured that someone else will. We know getting a bad review is stressful for a variety of reasons. But your response can lessen the blow, and might even bring in new business. Here are some ideas for handling a bad review.

1. Never argue

Negative reviews are often posted in a moment of anger. Customers can do that because their livelihood is not involved. You’re in a different situation. Even if you believe the customer is wrong, it’s important to remember that there are many other people watching. If the interaction degenerates, that’s going to reflect poorly on you and your business. So, regardless of what you say, make sure your tone is professional and calm, and don’t get involved in a back-and-forth bickering match.

2. Wait

As urgent as the situation might feel, don’t post your response the minute you write it, especially if you are feeling angry or frustrated. If you do, you’ll inevitably end up in the shower having one of those, “Oh, that’s what I should have said…” moments. Write it in a Word document. Walk away. Think it over. And don’t simply think in terms of “should I?” or “shouldn’t I?” Think in terms of your brand. Then, put your best foot forward.

3. Respond

If the review is legitimate, the best policy is to reply. The average customer expects a response within a week—or even sooner. On social media sites like Twitter, customers want to hear from you within 24 hours. If you don’t answer, the customer is going to assume you don’t care, and you’ll lose your opportunity to rectify the situation. And remember other customers are watching. Below, one of our clients offers a professional and well-reasoned explanation in response to a customer complaint:

how to respond to negative reviews

The genius of this response lies in its proactivity. The owner addresses the customer’s complaint, and at the same time sets a professional standard that demonstrates how responsive the business has been to feedback, even before the customer complained. This takes the sting out of the criticism and tells future customers that they’ll be dining at a dynamic restaurant with an evolving menu.

4. Report If Necessary

Occasionally you will get a review that violates a site’s standards in the first place. Maybe it’s a profanity-laced rant, or an employee is targeted by name. In these cases, you can often report the review and have it removed.

5. Be Equally Responsive to Compliments

Another way to get out in front of customer complaints is to build positive relationships in response to good feedback. Below is another client review, and the owner’s response:

how to respond to negative reviews

Your loyal customers know that a single bad review doesn’t reflect your business as a whole, but potential converts who are interested in your products or services don’t have that insight. When you use reviews as an opportunity to showcase a friendly, personal approach, you build your defense before you’re ever attacked.

6. View Bad Reviews As Opportunities

The reviews and responses we’ve showcased here both left the businesses involved better off than they were before. Reviews are an excellent way to put your money where your mouth is, in a public forum where people will take note. If you spend money on advertising but don’t practice this simple form of correspondence, you’re missing an opportunity. 90% of customers won’t make a purchase without checking reviews, and almost 20% will look elsewhere if they see even one negative review. So don’t leave your reputation for others to manage. Be present, set the tone, and build your brand.

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