Krista Neher

Jan 17 2023

Dealing with Negative Reviews

Even for the best businesses, negative reviews happen and are a part of being in business. The most important thing when you have a negative review is to respond as quickly and professionally as possible. Most people don’t leave a negative review online as their first step in trying to resolve an issue. Often it happens after they feel that they weren’t heard by your business.

Below are some tips for dealing with negative reviews.

1. Keep it professional – While it’s tempting to defend yourself or recount the details of the customer’s behavior during the experience in question, it’s rarely a good look. No one ever wins when debating online. Keep your answer courteous.

2. Don’t get defensive – While you may be right, defending your business at all costs is rarely a good strategy. Step back, try to see the situation from the customer’s point of view, and cool off before responding.

3. Respond quickly – Even if you are just looking into it, the longer people wait for an answer the more upset they get. While you may be researching a solution let the reviewer know – otherwise, they may feel ignored and continue to escalate.

4. Respond Personally – Canned responses can be infuriating and make the commenter or reviewer feel ignored. Make your response personal so that it is clear that you care.

5. Directly Address the Issue – Don’t dance around the issue or use generalities. Address it as directly and specifically as possible. This shows that you care.

6. Empathize without admitting fault – Show empathy for the other person’s situation. You’d be frustrated too if you waited on hold for two hours, got the wrong order, found an error with a consultant report, or fill in the blank. You can empathize without admitting fault so the person feels heard.

7. Always offer a public response in the same channel – When you can, offer a public response in the same channel. This allows OTHER PEOPLE to see that you care and are responsive. Even if you can’t win over the reviewer, your customers will see the review and observe how you handled it. If you got a comment on Facebook, respond on Facebook – don’t try to push the dialogue to your website.

8. Do your best to take it offline – Offer to call the reviewer, ask the reviewer to call you, or suggest they stop in to talk to a manager. You don’t want endless back and forth. Words on a screen are subject to dramatic interpretation. Real people having a real conversation resolve problems. Plus, by publicly offering to connect with the reviewer you convey that you’re interested in hearing about their experience and you’re making yourself available to them.

9. Have a few templates ready to deploy – Have a few standard responses ready, but make sure that your response doesn’t sound canned. Most people want to be heard, so be authentic and directly address their comments.

10. When you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all – Your mom wasn’t wrong. When you’ve attempted to reach out to the reviewer, yet they continue to berate you online, don’t engage.

11. Know if Review Sites Can be Updated – Some sites can be updated after the initial review. If you have a bad review but you make it right, consider asking the person to update their review if you can turn things around.

Power Tip:

Respond to EVERY review (positive or negative). This reinforces that you care about your customers. Even for the negative reviews, your response is publicly viewable – so even if you can’t salvage the negative review you can minimize the impact on your reputation. People don’t expect businesses to be perfect, but they expect them to handle negative situations well.

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