6 Must Knows Before Responding to Negative Online Reviews

1. Wait

When we see a bad review of our company, there is an urge to immediately respond and tell the customer they are absolutely wrong. However, it is definitely a good idea to take a few minutes (or even a few hours) to respond to the review. Giving yourself time to reflect and calm down before responding will help you avoid the initial instinct to emotionally respond to the reviewer.

2. Respond

You NEED to respond to negative reviews – publicly (at least to start). If a customer complains about your business, not replying to the review shows potential customers that are reading your reviews that you don’t care. Not taking the time to address and hopefully solve the customer’s complaint will only reflect poorly on your business.  

Responding tips:

  • Make the reviewer feel heard: even if you disagree with what is being said, make sure you acknowledge their issues with your product/service/ staff and let them know you understand the problem and relate to their frustrations.
  • Don’t just respond – try to fix the problem: Depending what the complaint is, there is usually something that can be done to solve the issue. This could be as simple as an apology – a gift card – a refund – or even just a phone call.
  • Get an unbiased opinion: let someone else read your response before you hit send. Tone is very important – and when you are emotional you may not be aware of how your tone is really coming across.

3. Move it Offline

Whatever is said or posted online can never truly be deleted. Remember this when you are writing responses and interacting with your customers. Do NOT get into a war with your customer online. If after responding, you find that the unhappy customer is still fuming – try your best to move the conversation out of the public space. Be open about this, and give the reviewer a private way to contact you (a phone number, email, or a direct message). Even if they never reach out to you privately – giving the option tells future customers that you are willing to go the extra mile in terms of customer service.  Also, the Internet is an easy place to be rude – because of its anonymous nature. Removing the safety of a computer screen can remind your reviewer that there are real people behind your brand – and drastically shift the way in which they speak to your company.

4. Be Realistic

Don’t expect a major change of heart. Despite your best efforts, many reviewers will not alter their review or rating.  Remember, this isn’t the end of the world. You cannot please everyone all of the time, but the way you deal with the negative reviews is one of the most important factors.

5. Learn

Sometimes negative reviews can offer major insights into how we can improve our business. Pay attention to what the review is about. Is it a specific staff member? Is it a product issue? Is it a technical problem? Is it a recurring complaint? Treat reviews as a learning experience and a way to get insights into your company that you may not have been aware of.

6. More Reviews

Prioritize getting more positive reviews. Many businesses focus their attention on finding ways to get reviews deleted or altered – which can be very difficult and usually impossible (depending on the platform and circumstances). However, if this effort was focused on getting more positive reviews from customers – most businesses would be much better off.  Make it easy for your happy customers to leave reviews. It is possible to offer a small incentive for reviews – but typically this is not necessary. Having positive reviews will offset the negative review(s) – and make it less visible to the public (“pushing it down” on your list of reviews).

Reach out to us if you have questions or need help with responding to online reviews of your business!


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