How to respond to negative business reviews 

We’ve all been there, unfortunately, at one time or another. You do your best, you work hard to serve the customer, yet something goes wrong, or they aren’t happy for whatever reason. Today’s form of customer venting generally takes the shape of an online review. From Yelp to TripAdvisor to Google, you name it. Angry customers tend to vent all over the internet. So what do you do to retain your reputation and prevent any long-term damage in the face of a negative customer review?

Why Reviews Are So Important

Some business owners may just ignore a bad review, or worse, laugh it off. This is a dangerous attitude to have. Reviews drive consumer purchases—it really is as simple as that. Think about the following statistics:

– Prior to making a purchase 9 out of 10 customers will first consult reviews on that product/service.

– 80% of shoppers say they now trust online reviews just as much as they do recommendations from friends and family.

– Almost 55% of customers will read multiple reviews before committing to make a purchase.

Over 50% say that they do in fact expect a business to respond if there is a negative review posted about their company.

As you can see, reviews are essential—there is no getting around this fact. And so, if you do encounter a negative review online of your company, then you have to have a strategy for addressing it. You have to be methodical in how you approach negative reviews. The bottom line is, you have to do something. Just hoping it will somehow magically “go away” is not going to solve your issue; in fact, it may exacerbate it.

Strategies for Addressing Those Negative Reviews

You come across a negative review. In some ways, it is pretty scathing. What can you do? How do you respond? In what time frame should you reply? All pertinent questions and all are addressed below.

Respond in A Timely Manner

Taking a long time to reply to a person’s negative commentary on your establishment is not doing you any favors. You want to get on that negative review, and you want to do so quickly. Think about it. This customer felt bad enough about their experience to take time out of their life to post about it. You have to do the same. Please respect that they had an unpleasant experience and promptly respond to what they are saying in their review.

Don’t Go On the Attack

Emotions can come into play here, especially when someone is attacking your business. But if you let feelings guide your response with anger and outrage, this will only land you in even more of a mess. You have to step back, take a deep breath and objectively see what the person might be saying about your company and their experience of it. Pretend for a moment that you are not the business owner—separate yourself from this role. Try and see where the customer may be coming from. Sure, they may not be 100% right, but is there some validity to what they are saying? Acknowledge their complaint in this more level-headed manner.

Try and Empathize with The Person

This, of course, maybe a rather tricky feat, but it is necessary. People will be judging you and your business based on your reply. Remember, people look at the business’s response, particularly where negative reviews are involved. If you come off as hot-headed and devoid of any empathy, regardless of how right you might be in the matter, it is still going to look bad for you. Apologizing most definitely helps. Showing that you care about their feelings and level of concern can be a huge boost here.

Provide Some Form of Explanation

Again, this is not about attacking the person’s position. This is about clarifying the events in question and offering a solution if need be. This is where you want to both take responsibility for what happened and then explain why things transpired as they did. You want to be sure and do this in a calm and collected way. The more rational you are, the more clearly you express each point and then show that you are willing to make things right, the more favorable responses you will get to your reply.

Offer to Discuss it Offline

Once you have satisfactorily addressed the negative review in question, and once there has been some back and forth online, you would be well served by asking the person if they would be willing to speak to you offline. A lot more can generally be achieved by a phone conversation than by a back and forth exchange on some platform. If the customer is willing to talk to you, make sure, you approach the conversation rationally and calmly. In other words, do not fly off the handle, as you will be right back where you started.

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