How To Respond To Negative Reviews

While reviews are great for SEO and you need them for various reasons sometimes they’re not all that great. Sometimes we get hit with some negative reviews. Whether it’s a bad experience or a lack of a feature, there are a number of reasons for why people post negative reviews.

But what if I told you those negative reviews are all a good thing?

After I explain how we ought to react and respond to negative reviews, my hope is for you to realize one thing:

Bad reviews give you power. They provide you an opportunity to use your brand voice to correct yourself and to deliver great customer service. Not only that but you’ll do it on a public level allowing other people – potential customers – to see it.

The old saying that there is no other kind of publicity than bad publicity is kind of right. If you can handle it in a great manner, you can turn a bad experience into something fantastic.

Respond Quickly

In today’s society you can’t ignore a bad review anymore. In fact that is the worst way to “respond” to a situation. Instead you want to treat negative reviews as urgent matters. Sure they’re negative, but someone took time out of their day to leave a public review and to present a series of problems with your product or service.

It’s more than feedback and it’s a big deal. So make a point of responding quickly. That doesn’t mean you need to respond within minutes, but make sure that you respond between 24 and 48 hours.

Acknowledging Issues

Not only do you want to respond quickly, but you want to make sure you’ve acknowledged the issue. Thank the customer for bringing it up and begin to address the issue. This leads to my third point,

Promise To Make It Right

After acknowledging a problem there are a few steps to take. No matter what though you want to make it right. How you go about that depends on the situation. Some key questions to ask yourself are:

  • Does the customer understand your process?
  • Are they having an off day?

Knowing whether the customers is having a bad day or doesn’t understand the full problem is key because it determines how you respond.

When someone says they were unhappy with something and points it out (i.e. a broken TV on an airplane), make a point of offering a freebie to them. Depending on your product or service, make sure it’s within reason.

For example, if you’re serving food, offer the same dish or a same-priced meal for free.

If you provide a lawn care service, offer to do something extra for free.

Even if the person doesn’t take you up on the offer, this still warms up potential leads. Knowing that you’d go the extra mile means a lot to people.

If the customer is having an off day you can try to console them to some extent and probe them to determine whether it’s them being frustrated or it’s a legit problem.

Provide Deep Explanations When Necessary

To expand on making it right, sometimes some situations call for deeper explanations. Sometimes the best response is to provide more information to clear up misunderstandings. No matter what though, there are three things to do whenever you are providing explanations:

  • Never make excuses – take responsibility. Be clear about why this misunderstanding occurred in the first place.
  • Issue an apology, even if you know the customer is wrong.
  • Offer advice on how they can re-engage with your business.

Be Authentic

While a lot of people prefer to use automation, it’s important to not use it when dealing with customers. While everything is getting heavily automated these days, people still prefer to talk to other human beings.

After all they know that having a bot or IFTTT mechanism respond to their problems can spell problems. Look at examples of Bank of America who in the past used auto-responders in awkward situations.

Anyway the fact remains people prefer to talk to other people so do yourself a favour and have someone stay on top of customer reviews. Make sure to keep it real, conversational and honest. And above all…

Be Polite

Sure the criticism makes it a tense situation. And some reviews can really get under our skin. But it’s more important to take the higher rode and be the more mature person in that situation. Nothing good ever comes from stooping down to a person’s lower level and criticizing them. Instead be civil, and focus on their problem, even if you think it’s utterly ridiculous.

Be Sympathetic

Another trait is being sympathetic. Empathize the customer’s complaints saying I’m sorry or I understand. Those kind of things go a long way and tell others and that customer that their opinion is valid and valued.

You can go one step farther than that though and even offer recommendations. In some cases you could even recommend a competitors products as well. And while that may seem farfetched, the fact you’d go and recommend someone else’s goods or services speaks volumes.

While some could argue that makes you weak or not as confident in what you’re providing, I’d think differently. In this scenario you’re placing the customer’s needs before your own business. You might realize that this isn’t your ideal customer and they may be looking for something different that you might not have.

Think About Your Future Customers

For the vast majority of purchases these days, people will first be looking to reviews. It’s been ingrained into our heads by this point that we’ll instinctively do this. So naturally people will eventually come across a negative review or two or more.

In this instance I want you to ask yourself questions: what concerns would they have? Is it timing? The quality of the product or service? That their expectations weren’t being met?

While we won’t know for certain what sort of problems people will have, reviews provide an opportunity to answer various questions. Not only that but you can make changes and improvements based on those negative reviews and make a point of mentioning it in your response.

Contact A Customer Offline

Another really good policy to have is make a point of calling the customer personally. Once you’ve responded to them publicly, put an effort to contact them personally. If they left a review on social media, reach out to them through messages. Or if they have a phone number or email available you can call them or email them.

The whole idea about this is to show it’s not all for show. Also it may prompt the person to come back and change their review. Maybe not make it a positive one but they may add a comment saying they talked with you.

Deal With Negative Reviews The Right Way

While we get in our head that negative reviews are bad, it’s important to understand where they stem from. Yes it’s from customers of course but there are a number of questions to ask revolving around that.

Most times customers don’t have the full picture or there might’ve been a minor mistake or inconvenience. This resulted in them getting frustrated and lashing out in a negative way.

But being able to understand the mindset of a customer can help us in responding and using these tactics above in a great way. Not only to solve the issue, but to get good publicity to grow your business.