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How to respond to negative reviews: 5 best practicesSeptember 13th, 2019 by
Every business gets negative reviews. Although you do everything you can to provide your customers with a high level of service, there will come a time when you will have to deal with a bad review (that is, if you haven’t already).
Knowing how to respond to negative reviews is essential. With the right approach, your response to a negative review can showcase your company’s professionalism and commitment to stellar customer service.
Why negative reviews matter
Don’t panic when you get a negative online review, but don’t ignore it either. Reviews that are less than positive won’t have a negative impact on your website’s search ranking; in fact, they help present a well-rounded view of your company.
The good news is that your response can make a big difference in how the review is ultimately perceived. In many cases, potential customers are driven off not so much by the substance of the complaint but by the fact that the business did not respond to it.
A constructive, appropriate response can attract new customers and even help you repair the relationship with the person who submitted the bad review.
How to respond to negative reviews
Before you start writing your response, take a few deep breaths and remind yourself to stay calm and professional. Some reviews can be very upsetting. Especially angry customers may include insults, inaccuracies, and exaggerations in their reviews.
Remember that mirroring the tone of an offensive review can feel like a relief when you first post your response, but you’ll only succeed in making a bad impression on anyone who sees it.
Settle in advance on the message you want to convey and the tone you’ll use to accomplish that goal. Ideally, your responses will be professional and reflect your brand voice.
For some companies, this can mean a less formal tone; however, be mindful of avoiding a tone that comes across as flippant or cavalier.
5 negative review response best practices
Take time to craft a thoughtful response to all negative online reviews your company receives. Use the following best practices as a guide to ensure that your response is helpful and respectful:
- Include an acknowledgement of the writer’s problems
- Show appreciation for the feedback
- Specify a commitment to doing better
- Outline a specific step you will take to fix the issue
- Include your contact information and an invitation for the commenter to reach out to address the concern further
You may also need to include some other elements depending on the content of the review. For example, you may want to correct verifiably wrong information. Only do this if there is an objective way to verify the information.
In general, your approach should be constructive. You want to convey that you view negative feedback as a learning opportunity, not as a hassle.
What to avoid in your response
Excessive apologies. While a brief apology for the customer’s bad experience is necessary, excessive apologizing focuses the attention on the fact that you did something wrong.
Non-apologies. On the other hand, avoid fake apologies such as, “I’m sorry you feel this way.” This type of phrasing indicates a cavalier approach to customer satisfaction, which is not the impression you want to convey.
Excuses. Sometimes a complaint happens as a result of unusual circumstances that prevented you from delivering your typical stellar service.
It’s OK to briefly acknowledge that this case was an isolated instance rather than a reflection of your regular standards, but the majority of the response should focus on the customer’s experience, not on your company.
Unrealistic promises. Only offer fixes you can actually make. Otherwise, you find yourself facing an additional negative review from the same customer when you fail to deliver.
A negative review may bring up a complicated issue that you will not be able to resolve in a few lines. Submit a response anyway, so that others can see you plan to handle the issue.
Limit your response to an apology and contact information for a person who can further look into the matter. You can also reach out to the customer privately and explain in detail how you can address his or her concerns.
No matter the tone or content of the review, remain courteous. A response that expresses empathy and addresses the issue can go a long way toward minimizing the impact of negative reviews.
When to respond to negative reviews
Ideally, you should respond to reviews as soon as possible. Delays make customers feel like you don’t care about their problems.
At some point, the customer and others who view the feedback will take an ongoing lack of response as a decision to completely ignore the review. Many customers expect to hear back from you within a week.
In the remodeling and home service sector in particular, customers look for companies that are responsive to concerns. No one wants to end up with the type of company that doesn’t return emails or phone calls or address issues. Your review response strategy should convey that your company cares and is responsive.
What you can do to minimize negative reviews
There is no way to completely avoid negative feedback. However, for many customers (though not all), posting negative feedback publically tends to be a last resort. This action can signal that the customer didn’t feel that they were able to resolve the issue satisfactorily at any prior stage.
You can decrease the number of bad reviews by giving customers ample opportunities to communicate problems before they resort to posting a review.
Take the following steps to ensure a great experience for your customers:
- Periodically checking in with the customer during the project
- Asking for feedback after completion
- Responding promptly to the customer’s calls or emails
- Demonstrating that you are actively working to address any issue the customer brings up
When customers see that you get back to them quickly and take their concerns seriously, they are less likely to take their issue online.
Handling negative reviews is just one part of the extensive online reputation management businesses need to stay competitive. Partnering with GuildQuality can help you stay in touch with customer concerns and gather valuable feedback.