How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Oct 1, 2021

Local business reviews are critical to your company’s success. Prospective customers rely on reviews from peers to determine if a company is legitimate and trustworthy. While not having any reviews can be a disadvantage, negative reviews can damage your reputation.

The reality is that no matter how amazing your company and staff are, mistakes will happen. Customers will get angry — sometimes rightfully. There are, of course, those that you can never make happy as well.

While you can’t prevent negative reviews, you can do the most important thing — respond to them after they occur.

Here are some best practices you can follow.

Respond Quickly

As soon as you receive a bad review, you should start planning the response. If you don’t know the details, reach out to those that do. One way to streamline this because you’re already super busy is to document a process of how to respond.

Make it a goal to respond within 48 hours.

Acknowledge the Complaint and Apologize

When responding to complaints, try to keep your emotions in check. While it’s your business and you feel personally impacted, don’t let it cloud the response. Start by acknowledging the complaint if it’s true. That caveat is necessary because fake reviews are a real thing.

If it’s legitimate, show your customer your willingness to see their side of the situation. Empathy can go a long way with customers. Use the words, “We’re sorry to hear of your experience.”

If there were specific miscues by your company, address how you will improve those going forward. You can even put in the review that the customer can contact you, the owner, personally to discuss the issue.

Take Responsibility and Don’t Shift Blame

It’s easy to be defensive when someone is bashing your company. You want to list the millions of reasons why something went wrong. Many of these will be valid reasons outside your control — weather, damaged equipment, materials out of stock, accidents, etc.

However, posting a litany of excuses won’t change what happened. Instead, just own your mistakes. You’re going to have to take the moral high ground here for the betterment of the company.

While being accountable, reiterate your company’s values and how you strive to live up to them every day. Nobody or no business is perfect. Sometimes humility is the best response. Tell them you’re going to investigate what went wrong and deliver better in the future.

Explain, Don’t Justify

It’s okay to add context to why something went wrong. You want to explain, not justify. People don’t respond well to justification, but an explanation is an easier pill to swallow. If extenuating circumstances caused the issue, it’s okay to insert those, but you should still apologize.

Reach Out Offline

After you respond to the negative review on the platform, follow up offline with the customer. Email or call them to reiterate how sorry you are for the inconvenience. If you can engage in conversation, you may be able to turn a negative into a positive. If there is a way to make it right, do so with a discount, free service, or other option.

At the end of the day, most customers want to feel heard. If they do and believe there was a good resolution, you may still retain the business in the future. It all matters what you do after the complaint that can change the outcome.

Need Help Managing Your Online Reputation?

If managing your reviews is too much work for you, then we can help. Check out our reputation management services.

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