6 Tips for Handling Negative Business Reviews

In today’s business world, reputation is everything. Online reviews can either help to skyrocket your success as a company or be your downfall. When someone is looking for a local business, the first thing most people will do is Google the establishment to see what type of experience others had while there.

According to Inc., 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. That means that even though someone does not know the person that left the review, they will take it into consideration and may use it as a deciding factor when choosing whether or not to use your services.

When someone leaves you a review, you want it to be as positive and informative as possible because potential clients will be checking to see what others have to say. Reviews are a powerful tool that can be used as an asset to drive more traffic to your business.

But, occasionally someone may not have enjoyed the experience they had at your business or while using your services. The best thing to do in this situation is to remain calm, cool, and collected before responding. Stay level headed and follow these tips on the do’s and don’ts of responding to negative business reviews.

Don’t: Get Defensive and Lash Out

When you see that someone criticizes your business, it’s a natural reaction to want to defend it, especially when you feel like the comment was unwarranted. If they leave a bad review, it can seem like a personal attack, but that is not the case.

Every single customer will not always be happy and that is to be expected. For example, if someone leaves a review saying they called customer support and the employee they spoke to was very rude, obnoxious, and unhelpful, you should never respond by saying “Well, my employee told me what happened and you were actually the one that was rude. Don’t use our service again.”

It’s important that you take the high road and remain civil even if a customer posts something that you feel is a low-blow. There’s also the possibility that there was a miscommunication between you and the customer, but even in this scenario, avoid telling the customer that you were right and they were wrong.

Remember, your first priority is the client’s satisfaction, so get to the root of the issue and think of the best solution to help solve their problem.

Do: Be Professional

Someone took the time out of their day to review their experience with your business and even though it may not have been what you wanted to hear, this is your opportunity to show potential clients how you handle conflict.

Reach out directly to that customer and try to come to a resolution that will make them happy. You want them to feel heard and that the criticism was actually taken into consideration when you respond.

Listen to what they have to say and ask questions about why they feel this way. Do you know what they need and how to make sure they’re satisfied with your customer service? One way to start a response to a negative review is by saying, “Thank you for taking the time to tell us what happened and we apologize about the unpleasant experience you had…”

This example validates their feelings and lets them know how apologetic you are that they didn’t leave your business or use your services and felt they were satisfactory. Let them know that proper customer service is one of your brand’s core values and you will do everything you can to ensure they have the best possible experience.

Don’t: Ignore It

Just because you don’t respond to negative online reviews does not mean they will magically go away. If potential customers see that bad reviews about your company are just beginning to pile up with no response from you or your team, they’ll assume you don’t care about your reputation.

Ignoring the problem will not make it disappear. In fact, it may do just the opposite. Some people are dead set on constantly leaving bad comments about your business until you finally respond. In this situation, you need to communicate with them as soon as possible to resolve whatever issue it is that they have.

Do: Respond in a Timely Manner

Constantly monitoring your Yelp and Google Reviews is a good habit to put into practice. It’s important that you implement a response time policy so that no bad review goes unchecked. Whether it’s an arbitrary complaint or a more urgent matter, your response time should not be over 24 hours. Now, even giving yourself a full day to reply may be too generous.
According to SuperOffice’s research from 1,000 companies, the average response time is approximately 12 hours and 10 minutes. This may not seem that long to you, but to a dissatisfied customer that is looking for answers, this can seem like a lifetime.

Don’t make excuses as to why it took so long to get back to them. The customer will most likely be unconcerned with what occupied your time for so long that you could not acknowledge their complaint in a timely manner. The moment you have time to do so, address the issue and offer a solution.

Don’t: Give the Same Generic Response

If a customer sees that you’re replying to every negative review with the same general comment, they’ll just assume you’re not actually reading them and attempting to solve the problem. You should personally tend to the customer’s issues and make sure your reply is specific to the problem that this particular customer is having.

This shows them that you care about them enough to not just leave a message that was copied and pasted from a document. Personalize your message to them. If you have specific information about them or know the exact incident that they are referring to, use it.

You want to seem as sincere as possible so when you actually acknowledge an issue that is particular to them, it communicates to the customer that you care.

Do: Be Genuine

Being authentic and showcasing that in your response will always get you a better reply from someone. We’re all humans and we make mistakes so don’t be afraid to say that you may have messed up. Apologize to them about having a negative and come to a resolution that will make them happy.

Now that you know the do’s and don’ts of how you should respond to bad online reviews, next time you receive one, you’ll know the proper measures to take to turn the situation around in a positive way. Don’t forget who you are as a brand and how important customer service is to you. Let that show in every interaction you have with someone and they’ll know you care.

Interested in more ways to practice proper customer service? Check out these other resources!

3 Ways to Provide Exceptional Customer Service for Long Term Success
7 Tips to Build Patient Loyalty
Showcasing Your Brand When Responding to Online Reviews

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