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Responding to Negative Reviews


Handle negative reviews like a pro!

It happens.

Negative reviews are going to happen. They are going to be the result of a mistake, an “off day”, or a misunderstanding that will make a customer feel the need to go and tell the world about their horrible experience.

I recently read a review on Yelp that began with, “I tend to not trust companies with ALL positive reviews.” Even your customers know that bad reviews happen, but instead of letting the bad review increase your blood pressure and derail your entire day, look at it as an opportunity.

A negative review has the potential to do a lot of damage, but if handled correctly, it can actually help your company’s public perception.

How to respond.

Negative reviews need to be handled with a type of grace and subtlety that will address the customer in a way that will skew their negative opinion of your business. Here are 6 general guidelines to follow when responding to negative online reviews.

1. Keep Your Cool

As you read the review for the 1st, 25th or even 100th time, and feel your blood start to boil, your first instinct is going to be to strike back and get defensive. But DON’T! Whatever you need to do to calm down, do it! Take a breath, watch a show, take a walk, whatever works for you. Just keep your cool.

2. Respond Soon

Your customer is wanting to be heard, so let them hear from you. Make sure that you are in a calm place before responding, but don’t wait too long. The longer a customer simmers with their bad feelings for your company, the more difficult it will be to change their minds. We recommend responding to a negative review within 24 hours of it being posted.

3. Apologize

As difficult as this may be, an apology can go a long way. There is no need to justify the customer’s issue with an excuse or even by taking full responsibility, just simply apologize. Sometimes customers just feel like they haven’t been paid the attention that they need and an apology will certainly change their opinion.

4. Next Steps

Make sure you include specific actions that will be taken to remedy the situation so that it the “issue” will not continue to happen.

5. Make Amends

Give clients a ways to contact you so that you can rectify the problem. We don’t recommend that you publicly provide coupons or discounts to make amends. This might incentivize some people to leave negative reviews to receive a discount. Instead, if you feel that you need to reach out the the customer, provide contact information and ask them to call or email you directly.

6. Let it go

As much as you want to devote all of your time to this problem until it’s fixed, don’t. The time that you spend trying to change this one customer’s mind and convince them that they should love your business again, is time that you could be using to get 10 positive reviews! And before you know it, that bad review is yesterdays news. So do yourself, and your business a favor and move on.

Use your best judgement.

Each negative review is specific and the response should be crafted to address the customer’s unique complaints. Make sure that you remain sensitive to their opinions, while staying focused on remedying the situation. Use your best judgement and don’t underestimate the power of an apology.

We all hate having to deal with negative reviews, but we also know there is a right way and a wrong way to handle them.

Response: We are so sorry that you felt you had a bad experience. We always make sure to turn on the heater before we leave and have the vacuum ready to catch any extra dust or debris that might come out of the air ducts. We would love to have the chance to make this right. Please reach out to us at 555-5555 so we can chat more about what happened. Thank you.  

The response is apologetic, and specifically addresses the customer’s complaints. It gives them a way to contact you so you can have another opportunity to remedy the situation.

Follow these guidelines for best outcomes, and use your negative review as motivation to bury it under positive reviews.

Is there another way you have found to deal with negative online reviews for a positive outcome? Or do you have a personal experience in dealing with negative online reviews to help the rest of us? Leave us a comment!

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