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Reputation Management

11 Ways to Handle Negative Reviews

keep calm when responding to negative reviews

No matter how great your business is, bad reviews will probably happen.  Here are some tips on how to handle 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 and polite.

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 point of view, and cool off before responding.

3. Respond quickly – Even if you are just looking in to it, the longer people wait for an answer the more upset they get. While you may be working a solution or investigating let the user 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 actually 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 persons 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 off-line – 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 adding drama. 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. If they choose not to engage further with you, that’s on them.

9. Have a few templates ready to deploy – You can’t please everyone. Say it aloud with me.
“I can’t please everyone.” There will be reviews that are worthy of an investigation and those that aren’t. Start with these three responses and customize them as necessary.

  • “Thank you for letting us know about your experience. We’ll look into it.”
  • “Thank you for sharing thoughts about your visit. We strive to satisfy our customers. Please call us or come in to speak with a manager so we can learn more.”
  • “Thank you for your thoughtful feedback. Sometimes criticism of our services is hard to hear, but it often leads to positive change. We appreciate your willingness to give us that opportunity to improve.”

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. Trust us on this – going toe-to-toe in the virtual world with a reviewer who is intent on making you look bad is NEVER a good idea. You’ll come off as defensive, immature, and easily provoked, even if none of those characterizations are accurate. A virtual argument will speaker louder than the most glowing of reviews. Disengage totally.

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 are able to turn things around.

Don’t panic if you receive a bad review. Studies actually show that perfect ratings seem contrived, as 82% of consumers actually look for less-than-stellar feedback. The best defense is a good offense, and having positive reviews is the best way to defend against the bad ones. Have an active positive review strategy and follow these tips to combat the negative reviews if they happen.

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