How To Respond to Negative Reviews

Every business owner wants their company to run as smoothly as possible and although perfection is the aim of most operations, mistakes happen and you should know how to respond to the negative reviews that sometimes follow.

Even the smallest misunderstanding can be publicly aired as negative criticism so it’s best to always be prepared by knowing how to respond and avoid further issues by doing so quickly. In this article, we’ll guide you on how to navigate these sticky situations in a way that provides the best outcome for both sides.
Stay Calm and Collect Data
When you see a negative review, the first thing you should do is stay calm and collect data. Look at who the reviewer is, where the review was posted and carefully read through the details of the complaint that has been left. Never reply in the heat of the moment. Take a moment to understand things from the reviewer’s standpoint and remember that all feedback is positive if you come from the perspective of knowing that the best improvement can result from the most negative comments.

As you collect the details, also determine which category this type of review might fall under:

Competitor Reviews have an aim for your current and potential customers to see your business in a bad light. Even if you’re 100% certain the review was left by a competitor for this reason, don’t retaliate as this can backfire. Instead, handle the claims objectively. Calmly and kindly respond to each of their points. You can also note that after investigation, no contact by that name was found and request that they email you directly so you can look up their account to help resolve their issue.

Valid Reviews are left by real customers or prospects who have had some sort of experience with your company. These can provide the most insight into where your weaknesses are. Even if the reviewer is being unreasonable and the points aren’t necessarily valid, you can use this opportunity to show future viewers that your business listens and can handle situations in a professional manner.

Spam Reviews often don’t make sense or are simply there to leave backlinks to their own pages as a form of self-promotion. You can try to flag or report these submissions depending on the platform. Some platforms will automatically categorize these types of reviews as “not recommended” or against their terms and conditions if their algorithms have detected the bot activity.

Starting the Response Process
Keep it Cool
Regardless of the type of review you encounter, always be polite when you reply. If the negative review comes from your competitor, do not lash out and diminish your reputation. If the review comes from a valid prospect or customer, hear them out. Their honesty, no matter how brutal, can be extremely useful. Either way, it’s important to remain logical, sincere and level-headed rather than react impulsively.

Say Thank You
While it may seem strange to thank someone for leaving a negative review, it is an important part of a polite response. It’s a good way to demonstrate that you’re open to friendly conversation with genuine hopes that it can be both constructive for you and beneficial for them. Doing so can sometime yield a more pleasant follow-up response from the reviewer since you’ve set the tone in that direction.

If a reviewer is unreasonably hostile, remaining pleasant can also highlight the stark contrast between your professionalism and their lack thereof. Other viewers are likely to read between the lines and disregard these types of reviews.

After saying thank you, it’s also helpful to apologize for the inconvenience, mistake or misunderstanding. Even if you determine that your company is not at fault, it is still better to take the high road and apologize. You can ask them if they need any assistance to fix the problem even if the problem is not on your end.

Provide an Explanation
Providing an explanation where relevant can help future customers understand why the negative review was posted in the first place. Avoid making up excuses or shifting the blame onto the customer. It’s better to take responsibility and/or draw assertive boundaries where appropriate.

In some cases the reviewer may not be aware of your policies and procedures and simply needs guidance. Take time to educate them so they are informed and less likely to be confused or upset due to a misunderstanding. In the event of a pushy customer demanding out of scope services, it helps to have a publicly displayed FAQ or agreements section prewritten to clarify what is and isn’t included. It’s easy to reference and facilitates trust since it shows you’re organized and not making things up as you go.

Invite a Private Discussion
Sometimes the resolution of an issue requires an exchange of account data. In no circumstances should you ever disclose personal information not already publicly revealed by the reviewer – and even then, it’s probably not a good idea since the reviewer could always edit or remove their comment, leaving only your response.

Either way, this kind of discussion is best had privately to maintain confidentiality and minimize liability. The best way to publicly address these situations is with fast response times, a show of willingness to help and at least one direct line of communication through which they can contact you.
Turn The Situation Around
Although negative reviews can be difficult to accept, they are very much an opportunity to show publicly that your company cares about its customers. Use the situation to turn things around and possibly even gain a customer for life. Don’t dwell on negative reviews or take them personally. Instead, showcase your stellar customer service skills with a good example of how well you treat them.

Provide Solutions
When something goes wrong, customers immediately feel like they just wasted their money or time consuming your products or services. It is important that once they have posted a negative review, you provide actual answers and in a timely manner. Don’t just leave them hanging. Make sure that you provide a valid solution to the problem.

Offer Compensation
Sometimes it makes sense to offer compensation in the form of a voucher or credit to show that you’re willing to go the extra mile to provide the best experience possible when dealing with your company.

Don’t think that just because you replied that the issue has been resolved. Especially in cases where the solution to a problem is dependent on receiving further information from the complainant and they don’t respond, it’s best to follow-up and ask if you can still be of any assistance.
Pre-Publish Checklist
Before pressing “send” to reply to any sort of online feedback, there are some things to consider to ensure that your response is appropriate. Your reply will be public so you need to be careful about how to craft your response in order to get the best results.

Set the Right Tone
When responding to negativity, it is best not to be sarcastic, blameful or humorous. Use a helpful and empathetic tone. It’s very important to always be professional, polite and respectful. Customers who just had a bad experience with your company do not want empty promises or insincere apologies. They want to feel that you are taking them seriously and are eager to help them in solving the problem.

Consider the Length of Your Reply
When a reviewer takes the time to explain their experience in great detail, they’re hoping it will help you and others understand their perspective. A one-phrase or one-sentence reply may come across as dismissive so make sure you’re not disrespecting the reviewer with a response that is too short to properly address their concerns.

Be Mindful of Grammar
Poor spelling and grammar deducts from your professionalism in any matter, so it’s especially important when responding to a criticism where the reviewer feels your service falls short of what’s expected that you mind your p’s and q’s. Use Grammarly or other websites to help you out in checking your grammar if needed.

Proofread your Work
After you’ve written your response and checked your grammar it’s important to go the extra mile and proofread your work again. Be sure that your sentences are clear and concise and that your reply reads well overall.

Get a Second Opinion
Besides spelling, grammar and tone, a second opinion from a trusted source can’t hurt since they may be able to lend new perspective through a fresh set of eyes on the whole interaction. It’s also good way to test that the overall message reads as intended.

Use the Correct Account
This might seem like common sense, but it’s an easy to make to make and several companies (including large corporate brands) have made it. To be professional, you’ll want to be sure that you are logged into the business account so that you are not replying from a personal account causing confusion to those who read your response.
Opportunity To Shine
Responding correctly to negative reviews will help make your customers feel valued and respected and give your company a chance to shine. As a result, there is usually a good chance they will continue to use your products and services regardless of their negative experience. Your potential customers can even increase if they see how you respond to your existing customers to solve problems appropriately. So if you receive negative feedback from a reviewer, remember these tips to help resolve the situation and help boost your company reputation in the process.

Team work makes the dream work so let’s work together! Wherever you are in your journey, we’d love to help your dreams take flight.

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