For today’s business owners, negative reviews are just a fact of life. No matter how exemplary your customer service or how satisfying your products, sooner or later you’re going to encounter a dissatisfied customer.
When that dissatisfaction is expressed in a public forum, such as a Google or Yelp, it can be frustrating. More than that, it can negatively impact your company’s online reputation. What many business owners don’t realize, however, is that negative reviews actually present some great opportunities. When you handle them properly, you can turn even highly negative reviews into positives—for your business and for your customer.
Thinking Clearly About Negative Reviews
The first step toward responding to a negative review is simply to step back and put things in perspective.
First, note that just because you get a bad review, that doesn’t mean you have a bad product or a bad company. Customers leave negative reviews for all kinds of reasons, and sometimes it’s just because they were having a bad day. Take reviews seriously, but don’t internalize them or agonize over them.
Second, note that a negative review here and there proves that your reviews are authentic. Research actually shows that customers tend to be suspicious of companies that have all positive reviews, yet they are more likely to trust businesses with a mix of good and bad feedback.
Third, consider the fact that no company is perfect—and as vexing as negative reviews can be, they may also help you identify and solve some problems you didn’t know existed, ultimately making your company that much stronger.
The Benefits of Responding to Negative Reviews
With all of that said, it’s wise to respond to all the reviews your company receives—and that certainly includes the negative ones. There are a number of reasons why responding to negative reviews matters:
- It allows you to change the perception of potential customers; again, there’s research to support this point. Marketing studies find that customers tend to think much more highly of brands that interact with criticism.
- It also shows that you’re serious about customer service. By responding to negative reviews, you’re showing your customers that you care about what they have to say and that if they have a bad experience, you want to make it right.
- Finally, responding to reviews allows you to build stronger relationships with your customers. Simply put, when you take the time to talk with customers about their dissatisfaction, they tend to take notice and to remember it.
How to Respond to Bad Feedback
Responding to negative reviews is well worth the effort, then—but how? Here are a few tips.
- First, it’s critical to never respond in anger. A bad review can leave you feeling hot under the collar, which is only natural! With that said, responding in rage will only make you look bad. Take a few minutes to step away and calm down before you type anything.
- Always acknowledge the customer’s complaint and apologize that they had a bad experience. This is important even if you frankly feel like they are being unreasonable. It allows them to see that you hear them and take them seriously.
- Ask how you can make things right. Again, negative reviews give you a chance to show off your customer service acumen. Keep the conversation going until you’re able to agree on a solution.
- In some cases, it may be best to take the conversation offline. If you feel like that’s the right move, leave an email address and phone number and ask the customer to reach out to you so that you can help them one-on-one.
- Remember that offering an empathetic response can sometimes result in the bad review being amended or deleted—but you can’t count on this, can’t force it, and shouldn’t bank on it.
One final tip: The best way to offset the effects of a negative review is to get some positive ones. Make it easy for your customers to provide you with feedback, including review links on your website and in emails. Also, directly ask satisfied customers to take just a moment and provide you with their review.
As you consider different ways to respond to bad reviews, you may consider the benefits of a review management system—allowing you to get notifications when you receive new reviews and to respond from a centralized dashboard. If that sounds worthwhile to you, give us a call; the enCOMPASS team is here to chat about any of your review management needs.
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