The Right Way to Respond to Negative Reviews

When running a small business, online reviews can be a valuable resource for your business’ growth. But every now and then you may receive a review that is less than perfect. While it’s easy to become discouraged or even angry at the sight of a bad review about your company, it’s important not to take it too personally and be sure to react in the best way possible to resolve the issue.

A quick look into the importance of online reviews...

A large number of consumers seek out online reviews when evaluating businesses, products and services to determine if it is the right choice for them. Businesses can see an average of an 18% increase in revenue from receiving online reviews. Not to mention that 50% of consumers will question a business’ quality after reading negative reviews. So, it’s safe to say that online reviews can influence a buying decision in a considerable way.

Clearly, online reviews hold significant weight and are well-proven to either attract or deter potential customers. It is important to develop a positive online presence, and acknowledge the value of online reviews and the necessity of responding to and interacting with customers online.

Let's get down to it... How should you respond to a negative review?

When the day comes that you do receive a negative review and are unsure how to handle it - don’t worry, we are here to help! Below are some tips on the right way to respond to a bad online review so you can potentially turn an unhappy customer into a satisfied customer.

Respond quickly

When running a small business, communication and high-quality customer service are key. Customers often react to a poor experience by leaving a negative review. When this dreaded negative review is posted by an unhappy customer, keep in mind that mitigating the damage must be done quickly.

On average, a customer tells 15 people about a good experience and 24 people about a bad experience. Targeting a negative reviewer with a positive response can stop the poor opinion from spreading quickly and scaring off other potential customers from your business. A quick and effective response indicates that your business values each and every customer.

Respond professionally

According to a survey, 78% of online reviewers confirmed that seeing a business respond to reviews made them trust the business more. It's equally important to both respond quickly to criticism and respond in a professional and non-reactive manner. Lack of response can indicate disregard for customers and an unprofessional response can make an unhappy customer's criticisms appear more legitimate than it otherwise would. When constructing your response, it’s important to keep these guidelines in the back of your mind:

  • Take responsibility for a negative experience and offer to make things right. Not all poor experiences are amendable, but a simple apology can still make a significant difference to an unhappy customer.
  • Offer to discuss a complaint privately. It may be appropriate to discuss a complaint privately if additional details are needed or the complaint is of a sensitive nature.
  • Let them know your business cares and views them as a person, not just a revenue source. Even if you fail to persuade a negative reviewer to give your business a second chance, those who read your positive and thoughtful response will see your business as both classy and professional.

Collect more positive reviews

A great way to reduce the damage caused by negative reviews is to attract additional positive reviews. However, motivating happy customers to leave feedback can be challenging. People often do not want to spend time leaving a review unless they are angry due to a poor experience.

When working to acquire positive reviews it's important to provide high-quality products and services, make the feedback process as easy as possible, have someone the customer actually interacted extend an invitation for feedback and use multiple channels to collect feedback.

It’s safe to say that maintaining a positive reputation, encouraging growth and navigating customer satisfaction can make the difference between a successful or failing small business. Responding quickly and professionally to a negative review, while also working to collect more positive reviews, is the best approach to developing a positive online presence. Improve your revenue and customer base by embracing negative feedback and using it to improve business operations.

If you use these tips the next time your business encounters a bad review, there’s no doubt that you will have those happy customers back on your side in no time!


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