Negative reviews can be scary for business owners but can also be a chance to grow and improve.
How you handle negative reviews affects how potential customers see your business.
This article explores the importance of responding to negative reviews, determining why they happened, and tips for addressing dissatisfied customers’ concerns.
Negative reviews can help your business
Today’s customers largely rely on review sites to inform their purchasing decisions. Negative reviews can deter potential customers and erode trust in your product or service.
There are many reasons why people may post a negative online review.
In most cases, negative reviews are an emotional response from a customer due to an unsatisfactory experience with a business’s products or services.
Understanding the cause of negative reviews is equally important as responding to negative reviews.
Over the last decade, I have analyzed the review profiles of thousands of businesses. You may identify some common issues or complaints if your business deals with negative reviews.
Negative reviews are valuable for companies to identify issues with their products, customer service, pricing, billing, etc.
Each critique provides insights for improving products, services, and customer experiences.
Businesses can pinpoint problem areas by analyzing negative reviews and making meaningful changes to better serve their customers.
Dig deeper: A 3-phased approach to proactive online reputation management
Tips for responding to negative reviews
Customers appreciate it when they feel heard. They want to know you are taking their review seriously.
The way you respond to a negative review can significantly impact how prospective customers perceive your company.
Below are my top tips for responding to negative reviews:
It can be easy to lose your cool when you see a negative review talking poorly about your business.
However, it’s important to maintain a calm, respectful, and professional demeanor in all responses to negative reviews.
Avoid any language that could be deemed confrontational or defensive.
Responses should be tailored to each specific negative review.
A common mistake is when a business uses the same response for all negative reviews – this can make the responses seem inauthentic.
The ideal response time to a negative review is within 24 hours.
This will show your customers your dedication to addressing any issues while mitigating the negative review’s damage.
Responding quickly will also lead to a higher chance of a resolution with the upset customer.
Empathize with the reviewer’s concerns, and take responsibility for any mistakes or issues mentioned.
This helps to validate their experience rather than dismissing it. It’s important to remember that thousands will potentially see your review response from your prospective customers.
Show empathy even if you feel the reviewer is 100% wrong.
Respond to the reviewer’s concerns by directly solving their problem.
If there is no solution presently available, provide the reviewer with an email or phone number so they can reach you to resolve the issue.
Highlight the positive
Don’t let the opportunity pass you by to highlight any positive aspects of your business.
You can use your responses as a way to reinforce the quality of your business and the value you provide.
Always follow up with the reviewer via phone or email (if possible) to ensure their concerns have been addressed satisfactorily.
If the concerns have been resolved, it is also a great opportunity to see if the reviewer is willing to update their review – which often results in a higher star rating.
Dig deeper: A quick guide to managing your online reputation
Get the daily newsletter search marketers rely on.
Negative review response templates
One of the most important aspects of branding for a business is consistency.
If you have negative reviews published about your business, you should consider creating review response templates for your customer service team or whoever will handle your review responses.
Review response templates ensure that whoever is responsible for responding to the negative review sticks to the script, and treats every customer equally.
That said, you should never copy and paste the templated responses.
The first step in creating review response templates is to perform a negative review audit of all your existing negative reviews.
Once this has been completed, analyze each negative review, identify any common trends or complaints you see within the negative reviews, and categorize them.
Each category you create should have its own templated review responses.
You should incorporate personalization and details relevant to the reviewer’s concerns every time you respond and ensure that all responses adhere to the best practices detailed above.
The negative review response template below uses the best practices described in this article.
Dear [Reviewer’s Name],
Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback regarding your recent experience with our company. We genuinely value our customers’ opinions, and we appreciate the opportunity to address your concerns. We apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced and assure you that we take your feedback seriously.
At [Company Name], over the last [Years In Business] we have strived to provide exceptional service and a positive experience for every customer. We are disappointed to learn that we fell short of meeting your expectations. We have taken immediate steps to rectify the situation and enhance our protocols to prevent similar issues from occurring in the future.
We would like to address your specific concerns and speak to you about the situation further. Please reach out to our customer service department at [contact information] so that we can discuss your concerns in more detail and find a resolution.
Once again, thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. We hope to have the opportunity to regain your trust and provide you with a stellar experience in the future.
What about fake negative reviews?
Fake negative reviews are one of the most frustrating experiences you can face. A fake negative review can come in several forms:
- The fake review could be a case of mistaken identity.
- The fake review could be from a competitor or adversary.
- The fake review could be due to review bombing by a disgruntled customer and others.
- In the worst situations, fake reviews can be part of an extortion scheme.
If you suspect a fake negative review has been published about your business, check your customer database to see if the reviewer’s name matches a current or previous customer.
If you can’t find a match, it’s possible your business was a victim of a fake review.
The first action that should be taken is to try to get the negative review permanently removed. Most review sites allow you to flag any review for violations of their guidelines.
For example, if you are dealing with a fake negative review on your Google Business Profile, information on how to flag the review can be found in their help documentation.
If the review site doesn’t take action to remove the fake review, you can respond to the review with the following:
[Name of Reviewer],
We appreciate you taking the time to share your feedback with us. However, we couldn’t find any record of your visit or interaction with our company. We suspect that this review may not be genuine or may have been posted in error.
If you believe there has been a misunderstanding or if there is a specific issue you would like to discuss, please reach out to our customer service department directly at [contact information]. We are always available to address any concerns or questions you may have.
Dealing with negative reviews online
Negative reviews are an inevitable part of being in business today.
No matter what your industry, learning how to respond to negative reviews constructively will go a long way in determining your overall reputation online and ability to attract new customers.
Follow the steps outlined above, and you’ll put your business in the best position possible to turn a negative review into a positive opportunity.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.