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How to Respond to Negative Reviews?

We know how hard you’ve worked to train your staff and how much you’ve poured your heart and soul into creating a business that keeps clients coming back for more! However, it’s imperative to understand that it’s not possible to satisfy 100% of customers 100% of the time. Websites such as Yelp, Google, etc., use word of mouth to reach millions of people within seconds. That’s a powerful thing and can positively or negatively affect your business, depending on the approach you choose to take moving forward. When a client chooses to share their own experience online, it gives your company the chance to hear unbiased feedback, ultimately allowing your business to make improvements and provide a better customer experience moving forward.

How should I respond to negative online reviews?

When your company is presented with a negative review, here are some tips that will benefit your business in the future:

  • Most importantly, never respond when you’re still angry. Stay calm. Do not get defensive. We know that a negative review can feel like a punch in the gut. But first, take a deep breath and think before you start writing. Responding defensively to a review will only reflect you and your business in a negative light. Remember- your reviewers are paying customers. They are human beings and (often) unpredictable with feelings and sensitivities. Responding negatively, rudely, or condescendingly could make the situation much worse. Reacting purely out of anger comes with many consequences you may not predict. Always wait until you’ve calmed down, or allow an unbiased source to re-read your response and give you their feedback. It’s always good to get multiple perspectives before posting a comment for the whole world to see.
  • Once you’ve taken a deep breath, you need to decide whether the negative review warrants a response. Ask yourself, is this review constructive criticism or just absurdly negative? Since studies show about 80% of reviews on Yelp are at least 3 stars, these reviews will seem positive, neutral, or constructive in tone, and are worth a response.
  • Depending on the site, there are different ways to respond to reviews. First, you can send a private message to your reviewer. This goes directly to the reviewer much like how sending an email works. It is more private. The second is a public comment post. This allows anyone who visits your business page to see your response. Public comment posts are best when used to state your business’ policy or (politely) clarify any inaccuracies in the review.
  • Next, it’s time to brainstorm. You will want to respond strategically. There are two goals here: First, fix the problem. Secondly, and most importantly, maintain a positive public image. Any current or future customers that check out your business page will be able to see the response if you choose to publicly comment. You don’t want to say something that will offend or upset future customers, hindering the success of your business.
  • Form a genuine connection with the reviewer. The goal is to signal to other potential customers that you value their experience and perspective, and will work hard to make things right. You want them to keep coming back, over and over! Some customers will increase their rating if a business resolves the problem to their satisfaction. Be polite and take the time to craft a sincere response you can be proud of.
  • Address their legitimate concerns and explain what has changed. If you’ve updated a policy or made any other positive changes to your business, be sure to tell them. This will let the reviewer (and other potential customers) know you value their opinion and truly want to give the best customer experience. This is your chance to help rectify the situation at hand and even change the reviewer’s perspective for the better.
  • Do not ask people to take the review down. Unless they are obviously fabricated, do not ask customers to take down their negative reviews. Instead, we suggest you encourage these customers to come back in and give you another try (with or without a discount, your choice). Prove them wrong the second time! Many success stories have been noted from business owners who took the high road, were polite to their reviewers, and were reported, given another chance to show how awesome their business is, and why you have all those 5-star ratings in the first place.

Watch this great video below from Yelp about how to deal with positive or negative reviews:

Please remember! We know it seems confusing, but negative reviews can actually be good for your business. Customers are more likely to mistrust companies with 100% 5-star reviews. It can look fake or staged. The occasional negative review makes all other positive reviews appear more genuine. Most customers scroll through comments, specifically trying to find the negative reviews. This way, they can see what issues they need to be aware of when visiting your business. By responding positively and in a timely manner, shows you have confidence in your company that progress is being made. In the end, most understanding customers will realize this and take the negative review with a grain of salt, and so should you!

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I respond to false reviews?

Consider responding to all reviews you receive as soon as possible. If you believe the negative review received includes content that may be against Google policies you may want to report the review as well. You can find an instruction to report a negative review



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