Business owners hate negative reviews. They can really hurt a business, and a lot of times they are written or designed to do exactly that! We know that customers read reviews and make their decision to conduct business with a company based, at least in part, on reviews. Let’s look at some recent statistics:
So we’ve all heard that it is super important to respond quickly to negative reviews. But what does that really mean? I am going to share some methods that we have used in the past for our clients, which will hopefully help you handle your bad reviews.
First, let me start by saying that negative reviews are not always bad. They can alert a business owner to an area of their business that needs improvement. Consumers share what they didn’t like about your business, and a lot of times there is a lot of truth to what they say. This is especially true if more than one review is about the same issue. I tell my clients to look at it as an opportunity to make their businesses even better. For instance, my client received a negative review that complained about their return and exchange policy. The customer said the strict policy was hidden in fine print. My client said it is not in fine print at all. We have a policy page, it is stated clearly in the FAQs and in the agreement box during checkout. I found out that other customers had complained about the same thing. We made a simple change to their website and added the return and exchange policy as a tab in the product detail page, so it is right there in front of the customer when they are looking at the product. Problem solved. We wrote a response to the customer thanking them for pointing out the issue. Of course, we also pointed out that the policy was already in multiple places. That customer left their review but changed the star rating from 1 to 3.
The other point is that if you have a lot of reviews and they’re all positive, that looks fake. 94% of consumers suspect either censorship or fake reviews when they don’t see any negative reviews.
Make sure you get notified when there is a new review about your company.
Some programs offer a control panel where you can see reviews from all sites on one screen and respond to them through the program. You can find a lot of great tools on the web that will help you find out when your brand was mentioned or review was posted.
Make sure the review is really about your company.
If it is not clear that the review is about your business, ask the review site to remove the review or show proof that it is a legit review from a real customer.
Make a list of all of the specific items that the person brings up in their review, because you need to respond to each one, no matter how minor.
Gather all of the facts about the transaction from your employees, your shopping cart, customer service or CRM system (phone and email logs, etc.).
Prepare your response to each specific issue that they raised. Keep it super friendly and positive.
This may or may not be possible. But if it is possible to contact the customer directly and work it out with them so that they agree to remove the negative review, that’s your best option. If you have their phone number, call them. If not, on the review site, ask them to take the conversation private and ask them to call and talk with you directly.
Write a response on the same public forum or review site. Remember, you’re not just writing this response to the customer who wrote the review. You’re writing this to everyone else who is reading the review and basing their opinion of your company on how you handle difficult situations. You are making a case for your company. So it is important to keep your goals in mind. You want to come across as a professional company with fair policies and practices. Your tone must be very friendly and professional, with no attitude at all.
One of our new clients had some mixed reviews from the past few years on their Yelp site. So the question came up: Should we respond to old bad reviews or let it be? In this case, my answer was YES. They had purchased the business a couple of years back. We wrote a message that explained the business was under new ownership with new people and new policy. We invited them to give us another chance. That answer was personalized and posted in response to all the negative and neutral reviews. We wrote a different Thank You message for positive reviews.
People understand that things happen and business transactions don’t always go perfectly or smoothly. As long as your company is doing the right thing, responding to customers and “being nice,” that’s all that matters to most people. They know that haters will always be haters.
Again, your best bet is to have the negative review removed altogether so that it does not lower your overall star rating, online reputation or SEO ranking. But if you’ve done everything you can and you cannot get the negative review removed, then respond to it in a personal, authentic, positive and professional manner.
While you’re at it, leave a nice reply for all the people who left your business positive reviews. Those are the people that recommend your business and help your business grow. They are the ones that deserve to be thanked and rewarded. Don’t take them for granted. They are your biggest fans and will be happy to hear from you. I think I will write a blog on how to leverage positive reviews for marketing. Let me know if that would be of value to you guys.
Responding to negative reviews is part of the larger reputation management that is so important to online companies, as well as local shops. Consumers can talk about your business on many different platforms. It is important to engage with them in a timely manner on the social media or platform that they use. I hope you found this article helpful. Share your negative review experiences with me by commenting below. I’d love to hear from you.