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How To Respond To Negative Reviews

A positive online review, where ever it is, provides your customers with confidence. As they are provided by users, they work as a digital word-of-mouth that can positively impact opinions and decision-making.

Reviews are critical to consumers, but as poet John Lydgate said, “you can’t please all of the people all of the time”. With this in mind, it is very important for companies to learn how to manage and respond to those reviews that are less than favourable.

Negative reviews, especially those that have not been properly addressed, can have a tremendous impact on a brand’s reputation. So while you cannot control a person’s opinion, you can control how to respond and minimise the impact or even find an opportunity.

6 Steps To Responding To Negative Online Reviews

When looking at your negative reviews, it is crucial to listen to your upset customers and take extra care with how you word a reply. Here are six steps you can follow to make sure you ace your negative review responses.

Step 1: Respond quickly

It takes a significant amount of time (and now doubt coffee) to run your business. With so much on, it can be easy to put responding to reviews to the bottom of the pile. While it seems like a task for later, it should be higher on the list. Once reviews are posted, other customers can read them, and without a response, the only side of what happened is negative. Silence is not golden when it comes to reviews. By responding promptly,  the reviewer feels appreciated and heard, and new customers are reassured that any issues are explored.

Appointing a person and a specific procedure in place when dealing with negative reviews will improve efficiency when the time comes. It will also help the team to learn how to handle the situation.

Step 2: Ensure that the complaint is acknowledged.

Customer feedback is important to your company, so make sure that you show how much you value and appreciate it. When responding to reviews, the first thing to write is “thank you”.

A sincere “thank you” can go a long way. The below examples show how adding a thank you changes the feel of the response.

“We’re sorry to hear you had a frustrating experience, but I really appreciate you bringing this issue to my attention. We’ll strive to do better. ”

“Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Your feedback helps us do better. We are looking into this issue and hope to resolve it promptly and accurately.”

In the second version, the thank you demonstrates appreciation and acknowledgement that things didn’t go well. The first example still provides acknowledgement but could be read as a little more dismissive. Even if it wasn’t meant that way,  there is no tone in the written word.

Step 3: Empathise and take responsibility

It does not matter whether what happened was an uncommon occurrence, an isolated case, or an unfortunate incident; the reviewer’s experience is their own. You may disagree with the facts, but you can’t disagree with how they feel. 

Sometimes all it takes is a little sympathy and acknowledgement to defuse a difficult situation.

“We’re sorry to hear that your experience wasn’t up to standard, and thank you for writing a review. Our team would like the chance to discuss your feedback in more detail.”

Step 4: Give an explanation if necessary

An explanation might be necessary depending on the situation the customer reports in their review. This may also be a good opportunity to contrast the reviewer’s bad experience with your company’s policy or what customers generally experience.

For example, if the customer left a bad review due to slow delivery, explaining why things went wrong would not be a bad thing. This is a way to address the reviewer’s concern while also providing additional context to others who are also reading the review.

Step 5: Take it offline

Whenever possible, talk directly with your customer about their problem and take them offline. By proactively resolving the issue, you prevent any further difficult discussion. Often, trying to fix everything in one electronic response can be counterproductive.

Instead, try taking the conversation offline. Whenever possible, provide contact information, including the name of a specific company representative. Taking such a step shows that your company takes customers seriously enough to have someone in charge of handling those issues.

“Thank you for taking the time to leave your feedback. It’s really unfortunate that we haven’t been able to meet your expectations this time but we strive very hard to give every customer a good experience. We’d love to resolve this as quickly as possible and find a solution you’ll be happy with. Feel free to reach out to us directly via this email [email address] and we’d be delighted to hear from you! ”

Step 6: Create a review response policy

It is likely that more than one person will be assigned to respond directly to online reviews. A company-wide policy should guide your company in responding to positive and negative reviews. It is important to include

  • What language and tone to use
  • When and how you will respond to customers
  • Who will be able to access the reviews within your organisation
  • When escalations must be acted upon
  • How you should respond to reviews

Alongside other aspects of your company’s review process.


Why Is It Important To Focus On Reviews

It is imperative that you have customer reviews. They are extremely useful for your customers and also immensely important for your online visibility. Online customer reviews are a great avenue for grabbing consumers’ attention and increasing sales.

Don’t forget: your reputation is shaped not only by what you say about your business but also by what customers say about it online. It may feel like you have little control over your brand’s online reputation, but you can still take active measures to improve it. Responding to your reviews is one of the best ways to accomplish this.

While this guide has focused on responding to negative reviews, it is also worthwhile to go back to the positives ones too. Those who take the time to say how great your businesses deserve appreciation too.

Need help navigating the waters of negative online reviews?

Review management is no easy task, but mastering it will help your business grow its reputation and attract more customers in the long run.

By responding to reviews and by applying the best practices and examples outlined above, you can boost your brand’s reputation and even generate more revenue. If you’re interested in turning unhappy customers into your biggest fans on review websites, we can help. Let’s start the conversation!