84% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust their friends. In other words, online reviews can make or break your business.
Almost every business will get a negative review at some point. Responding to online reviews is crucial, but you should approach them with caution. Your response to bad reviews can be a huge influence on how customers perceive your business.
We’re here to help. Read on for a few tips on how to respond to bad reviews.
First: Take a Step Back Before Responding
Bad online reviews are sure to trigger an emotional response, especially if you’re a business owner who has never experienced a bad review before! Keep in mind that bad reviews don’t mean that your business is bad. Customers and clients all have their own individual wants and needs, and it’s possible that they just don’t align with your business.
It’s also possible that you’ve made a mistake, and that’s okay. Mistakes happen.
While you’re feeling emotional, resist the urge to respond. Although you will need to respond quickly (more on that later), it’s in your best interest to step back and calm yourself down.
An emotional reaction can leave a negative mark on your business. Whether you get angry, snarky, or even overly apologetic, it shows a lack of professionalism.
Analyze the Situation
Taking a step back will also allow you to be more analytical. Take this time to figure out why the negative review happened and whether or not the complaint is legitimate.
You’ll still have to respond to the negative review either way, but knowing if it’s fake or nit-picky will help you formulate your response.
If possible, look at the reviewer’s review history. Are they a first-time reviewer? Do they have a history of only posting negative reviews?
Also, take a few moments to determine if this reviewer was actually a customer. This isn’t always possible, but if your business is small enough and the reviewer has used their real name, you might be able to see if they’ve used your services.
It’s possible that someone left a review that was meant for another business as well. “Fake” reviews aren’t always intentional.
Don’t Take Too Long to Reply
After you’ve taken some time to collect yourself, respond as soon as possible. It’s best to respond within the first 24 hours if you can, but wait no longer than a week. Customers may see your silence as an admission of guilt or a sign that you don’t value customer service.
These things are bad for your brand.
Even if you’re not 100% sure how to make the situation right, responding and acknowledging the negative review right away will make a big difference.
Acknowledge the Review
Start by acknowledging the customer’s complaint (regardless of its legitimacy). It’s a good idea to find a way to reword it and put it in your response. This shows that you’re listening and trying to understand the problem.
Try to be empathetic. Remember that most negative reviews aren’t written with malice. The customer was disappointed with the products or services that they received from your business.
If Necessary: Ask Questions
Sometimes more clarification will help both you and the customer. If you’re unsure about the customer’s claims, or you can’t quite tell what the problem was in the first place, don’t be afraid to ask for more details.
Customers may see this as an attempt to fully understand the situation. This will make you look more professional and show that you want to do everything in your power to resolve the situation.
Apologize and Take Responsibility
Even if the situation was not your fault, you should still apologize in some way, shape, or form. Here’s a quick example of how an apology works if a review is illegitimate.
Let’s say that you own an ice cream parlor. A customer leaves a negative review claiming that the vegan ice cream that they bought was too icy and lacked flavor. Your shop, however, doesn’t offer vegan ice cream, so it’s clear that the review is either fake or the customer reviewed the wrong business.
A good response would be: “We’re sorry that you didn’t enjoy your ice cream! With that in mind, we’re curious about whether or not you visited our shop. At the moment, our shop doesn’t offer vegan ice cream, so is it possible that you went elsewhere?
We hope if you visit us you enjoy your ice cream experience.”
You’ll ask a question and let the customer (and your other customers) know that it’s possible that this review wasn’t legitimate.
If the review was legitimate, make sure you own up to it. For example:
“We’re sorry that you didn’t enjoy your ice cream! We’ll look into the temperature in our freezers to evaluate the situation. It’s possible that something went wrong, causing the ice cream to become icy.”
You’re not blaming the customer for their problem. You’re owning it.
Offer a Solution
After you take responsibility, offer a solution to the customer. Let’s use the ice cream shop as an example again. How will you make things right for that customer?
“We’re sorry that you had a bad experience and we’d love to make it right. If you reach out to our customer care team, we can offer you a coupon for a free ice cream cone. We’re going to do quality control so next time you won’t be disappointed.”
This shows that you’re willing to make a small sacrifice to please your customers.
Take the Conversation Elsewhere
In many cases, a long comment chain under reviews looks unprofessional. It also isn’t ideal for getting to the bottom of the situation. If possible, try to take the conversation in private.
Let the customer know where you can contact them to submit an official complaint. It’s a good idea to have a customer care chat service or email address for this purpose.
Handle Bad Reviews the Right Way
Handling bad reviews is stressful, but it doesn’t have to be hard. Remember: your response to bad reviews is a reflection of you and your business. Show empathy, take responsibility, and make it right.
If you’re looking for help managing your brand’s online presence, we want to help. Contact Incricia so we can start working together right away.