How to Respond to Negative Customer Reviews

Bad customer reviews can destroy a business. This is especially true if your business has few or no other reviews. Sometimes those negative reviews are unsolicited, from a competitor or someone you have never heard of. Sometimes they are true. At Big Storm, we’ve seen our fair share of negative reviews for our clients. As a fellow business owner, I completely empathize. Nothing is worse than having someone say bad words about something you have been working tirelessly on. Don’t they know that you spent countless days up at 5 am and clocking off at midnight only to try and make a living and keep your business going? Well at least this business owner (Drew) knows.

The worst thing you can do is let those online reviews simmer and dishearten your heart with no response. It can feel daunting but the good news is you can use those reviews to improve your business. Before we get into how to respond, it’s important to understand why you should respond. Here are some of the reasons:

Why Should You Respond to Negative Reviews?

  • Replying to responses shows other potential customers and clients that you are responsive and have taken the necessary steps to make sure this problem won’t happen for others.
  • Responding to them is an opportunity to make things right. If someone approached you in person, in most cases you would try and make it right or come to a solution with the other party. This same thought process should apply online as well. This is just another communication channel—even though it is slightly less direct—they are communicating with you through what they feel is best.
  • Remember, you aren’t just replying to one person, you are responding to everyone who reads the review, including other potential future customers.

How To Respond to Bad Customer Reviews

  1. Empathize with your customer 
    Take yourself out of the equation and put yourself in their shoes to really understand them. Ask yourself: If this had happened to me somewhere how would I react? How would I feel? If this person was my mom (assuming you have a good relationship with her) what would I say to her? It’s important that you acknowledge the customer’s perceived experience.
  2. Assure them of your expectations
    Tell them what your customers usually experience and apologize. “We are typically known for our outstanding customer service and quality and are sorry we didn’t meet your standards.” This holds you to high standards even if the customer feels you missed the mark. Who can’t continually get better?
  3. If you messed up fess up
    If you messed something up say so, but make sure you share how you resolved it and it won’t happen again. “We were undergoing a software change and there were some major issues. We have since implemented a new system and it is resolved.” Don’t blame other people or companies for the issue specifically, as that sounds petty. If you can let them know you have fixed the underlying issue, it makes a world of difference. 
  4. Look to resolve it offline
    Ask that they contact you offline to resolve the matter. Provide the appropriate contact information so they can discuss the problem in person. “I am the owner/person responsible and I would love it if you would contact me to resolve this issue at [phone / email]” This can sometimes help things along and if you are able to talk with them they might even reverse their rating from 1 star to 5.
  5. K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Silly)
    You should be able to say all this in 3-5 sentences. Don’t ask questions online and don’t get into detail or call out your reviewer. This will prevent you from saying something silly that may inadvertently upset the customer and cause a petty online argument that won’t look good for you or those other potential/future customers.
  6. Ask and you shall receive
    Are one of those companies with only a handful of reviews? Or do you have one negative review glaring at your business listing like a boxer after losing a prizefight? Talk to your good customers and ask them for a positive review. While it may take some time it is worth it. There are ways to do this easily and be scalable.
  7. Be open to improving
    Make the appropriate changes in your business, process, team, and self to better your company. Care on a people level.

But what if the customer or client was an ass-hat?

It may be shocking but not every customer is a good fit for every business. This is especially true in service-based industries such as restaurants and healthcare. This means not-so-great experiences may turn into a negative review. You may come across a review that is appropriate to remove as it may violate the guidelines of the platform (Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc.). Be sure to read through the guidelines on these channels to understand how to best tackle this issue.

Helpful tools for removing malicious reviews

Reviews Are Important

Responding to negative customer reviews is important for your business. Taking the time to respond is a critical part of managing your company’s reputation. If you need help managing your business online and working up a strategy to get ahead of negative reviews, we are here to help. Please contact us today to set up an appointment.

For More on Design & Marketing