June 16, 2022

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

It’s inevitable. You provide products and services for countless customers every day. You go in early, stay late, sometimes come in on your days off, and dedicate every second to being the best version of yourself that you can be. But even with all of your hard work and dedication, there is going to be at least one person who is not satisfied with your services. More often than not, that customer won’t say anything–they just won’t patronize your business again. Sometimes, however, they will take their frustrations out on the internet and leave you that one-star review with a scathing message.

The types of reviews can make or break your business. There are a lot of competitors out there, and as a consumer, wading through the different companies online can be a nightmare. And every company out there is going to tell you how great their business is and how much better they are than the competition. Reviews solve this problem by letting other consumers know what their experience was in dealing with a business.

Not all reviews are made the same and you are going to come across a negative review at some point or another. A bad review won’t shut down your whole operation, but how you respond to it can. A business that has nothing but glowing reviews seems suspicious and inauthentic, so don’t become discouraged when that one-star review pops up for your brand. The key to receiving bad reviews is how you handle them.

Negative reviews can be tricky to navigate, so here is a guide on how to handle them.

And quickly! Your first instinct is to leave that review right where it is and let it get buried by the other reviews. However, it is a good business practice to respond to these negative reviews right away. Responses to negative reviews will only help your business. You’ve used online reviews to make decisions before. When you see a negative review, don’t the optics look better if those reviews were responded to in thoughtful and professional ways? It would be the same for your business. Customers notice when a business takes the time to resolve issues that may or may not have been at the fault of the company.

Your response also allows potential customers to catch a glimpse of the culture of your company. For example, a CEO that personally responds to reviews gives the impression that the company with leadership that cares about its customers.

Acknowledge the issue. Use it as a learning opportunity. What is the issue? Is it a common problem that others have brought up before? Establishing a pattern of common issues, to begin with, will help you plan effectively so those issues can be prevented in the future. Remember not to take these negative reviews personally. Although you’ve worked hard to get where you’re at–and you certainly wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize the success of your business–negative reviews aren’t a reflection of you.

If at all possible, respond directly to the reviewer. A generic greeting, such as “Dear Valued Customer” comes across as impersonal. Instead, personalize your response to the person writing the review. This acknowledgment is a signal, letting your customers know that you care about them as individuals and that you take the time to consider their concerns.

And empathize with your customer. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. How would you feel after spending your hard-earned money, only for the product you purchased not to work? Or if the service you paid for was not up to standard? It’s frustrating to feel as if your voice isn’t heard. Just a simple “I apologize,” can go a long way in reassuring your customer base that their voices are heard and their problems matter. That’s half the battle.

Unresolved issues will only make things more difficult. Resolving issues promptly is not only good for your bottom line, but it’s a general good business practice as well. If customers are under the impression that any issues they have with your product or service will be ignored, they will simply take their business elsewhere.

Sometimes, resolving the issue can be impossible. If that is the case, providing discounts and offers to make up for the bad experience will go a long way as a show of good faith to your customers.

When the dust has settled and the issue has been resolved, reach out for a follow-up. Confirm with the customer their problem has been resolved. It’s also best to speak with the customer directly instead of on the platform the original review was written, as this takes the conversation out of the public eye. You will make a bigger impact on your customer base and encourage loyalty to your brand.

At the end of the day, it’s best to set realistic standards when it comes to running your business. Even with the best intentions, mistakes will be made and something will slip through the cracks. Don’t let this discourage you, as every business owner goes through a lot of the same things. Handing issues with ration, tact, and grace will create a long-lasting, positive impact on your brand.