5 Tips for Responding to Negative Online Reviews
Most businesses don’t know how to respond to negative online reviews. To some business owners, a negative review feels like an accusation. In fact, just one negative review can have a pretty big impact on your business’s reputation. This is especially true if the review is ignored.
In our increasingly digital world, all businesses get negative online reviews. Yelp and Google My Business offer consumers easy-to-use platforms to express their opinions and share their experiences about a business’s products or services. Because of this, your brand is consistently at risk of being on the receiving end of a nasty comment, deserved or not. However, how you respond to a negative review can say a lot about whether your business values its customers’ needs.
Why do people write negative online reviews?
People are more likely to complain than praise. Sometimes they’ve had a bad day, others, they are justified in their frustration. A negative review may be an attempt to receive a refund or a free item. Whatever the reason, pay attention! According to BrightLocal, 87% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase from a local business. Over 67% of those customers’ purchasing decisions are influenced by the reviews they read. You can’t control what is written about your business online, but you can control how it impacts your reputation. Because of a single reply to a negative comment, consumers who read reviews are 44% more likely to visit your website.
How to respond to negative online reviews
Responding to negative business reviews combats negative emotions that customers may have about your brand. Here are five tips for responding to negative online reviews in order to keep your customer base satisfied.
1. Respond in a timely manner
Customer engagement statistics have shown that 53% of customers anticipate an instant response to their online business reviews. Setting up automated responses on Google and Facebook can help. Be aware, though, these messages typically don’t scale well with online reputation management because they don’t resolve the customer’s actual issue. Make sure you follow up with a personalized message within 12-24 hours to respond to a negative review. This way, you provide an accurate and empathetic response without jumping to conclusions or responding defensively.
2. Thank the reviewer
Whether a comment is positive or negative, you should always take the time to thank a reviewer for providing unsolicited feedback about your business. Beginning your response with a simple “Thank you for your review. We’re sorry you had a poor experience with us” can do wonders to reduce the dreaded “bad vibes”.
3. Provide a solution
While a simple “thank you” and “we apologize” are a start, your reply to a negative online review should also provide some sort of solution. If there is an issue that you’re unable to solve, at least let the reviewer know that you will take their feedback into consideration. This solidifies to the reviewer that your business will do what it can to make sure that other customers don’t have the same negative experiences moving forward.
If you really want to show the customer that you’re empathetic to their situation, offer them a coupon or discount. These offers show that you’re willing to give personal attention to a one-time customer, and a good discount may even encourage that customer to return. Just make sure that whatever issue they experienced the first time does not happen again.
4. Keep it short and sweet
Many businesses feel the need to provide long-winded responses to negative online reviews. Some feel compelled to defend every aspect of a customer’s negative comments. However, this can actually make matters worse and provide the reviewer with more of a reason to feel upset. The rule of thumb is to provide a 3-4 sentence reply to online reviews. Make sure that your brief response includes an apology, thank you, and possible solution. The last thing you want is to drag out the conversation longer than necessary.
5. Take the conversation offline
If you find that you’re not meeting common ground with a customer, it’s best to contact them via private message or provide them with contact information for a customer service phone call. Doing this can ensure that an angry customer doesn’t grow even angrier in a public-facing conversation, and it allows you to solve the problem quickly and easily.