They can affect your business, there is no way to avoid them completely, and they have to be dealt with. That’s right: we’re talking about how to respond to negative reviews.
Keep reading to learn why negative reviews matter — and how to respond to them in such a way that you turn them into a testimonial.
NEGATIVE REVIEWS — WHY THEY MATTER AND WHY THEY ARE A GOOD OPPORTUNITY
No matter how amazing you are as a business owner, you will get at least one bad review, and likely, it will be more. So whether your service truly fell short or you’re just dealing with a crabby customer, you need tools to navigate the situation, because like it or not, bad reviews matter.
Why Reviews Matter — They Impact Your Business
After assessing 200,000 customers, the review experts at Trust Pulse determined —
- Only 13% of consumers will consider a business with 1 or 2 stars
- More than four negative reviews about a company or product may decrease sales by 70%
- Small businesses with a 1–1.5 rating on Google generate 33% less revenue than the average business
- 94% of consumers say a bad review has convinced them to avoid a business.
- 53.3% of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week.
- 63% say a business has never responded to their review.
- 44.6% of consumers say they’re more likely to visit a business that responds to negative reviews.
- Restaurateurs responding to a 1- or 2-star review have a 33% higher probability of the customer coming back and potentially upgrading their review by as much as 3 stars.
Why Reviews — Especially Negative Ones — Are a Good Opportunity
Why are negative reviews a good opportunity? Think of them as feedback. If you choose to take it constructively, feedback is a game-changer. Instead of feeling trapped by bad reviews or afraid of “haters” online, what if you turned the situation around to your advantage? It’s all about perspective. Yes, business is about the bottom line, so don’t think of this as pie-in-the-sky talk. Instead, this is a paradigm shift to free you up from feeling helpless and frustrated.
Jay Baer of Convince and Convert and author of Hug Your Haters, gives a great example of how to use these reviews for good —
“While only 41 percent of people who complain on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and other review sites anticipate a response when they do receive a response, they’re almost twice as likely to recommend the company afterward. This change of heart is much more significant with cries for attention than cries for help, so why aren’t you responding to every complaint on every channel? It’s time to hug your haters no matter where they’re complaining.”
Ultimately, it’s like Baer says — “Haters aren’t your problem. Ignoring them is.”
So instead of ignoring those negative reviews and comments, we’re going to help you get a plan in place so you can stop being afraid of negative reviews and be confident moving forward knowing how to respond to them.
HOW TO RESPOND TO NEGATIVE REVIEWS (AND POSITIVE ONES TOO)
Customer complaints are no longer a private situation, and they often take the form of a review or social post, so it’s important to have a plan in place ahead of time – a Review Response Guide, if you will. This plan will keep your team on target and take most of the stress out of the situation.
Keep the end goal in mind. Ultimately, the ideal interaction will be to turn this negative review into an eventual testimonial.
Three Things To Remember When Creating Your Review Response Guide —
1. Don’t take it personally.
It can be difficult not to take negative reviews personally, but most of the time, this really isn’t about you personally or your level of expertise. Unfortunately, sometimes service does fall short. It happens to the best of us. Sometimes, unfairly, a customer is taking their frustrations with something else out in their review.
2. Respond in a quick and timely manner.
First, it’s important to be quick and timely in responding to any review. Now, this doesn’t mean never take a moment to breathe or relax and always scour the internet for reviews. However, this does mean that you need to create a process and a schedule for checking and responding to this type of content. This also means you need to think through who owns or is responsible for this process.
3. Always respond — whether it’s positive, negative, or even ridiculous.
It’s simple. Always respond. There will be many times you need to take the more detailed conversations offline or to private messaging, and there may come a time, in rare circumstances, that you need to stop responding to a negative review. But ultimately, you should always respond at least once.
Why respond to positive reviews? This is a good opportunity to thank them for being a vocal and loyal customer — as well as maybe pointing them to other products and services they might like.
Review — “Loved our wedding at (venue name)! The staff was amazing, and it couldn’t have been a better day!” Response — (Name), we are so honored you let our team at (venue name) be part of your special day! And we look forward to celebrating many more milestones together.
Review — “The ambiance at (restaurant name) was so relaxing, and the food was delicious!” Response — (Name), we’re so glad you had a relaxing time at (restaurant name). Also, don’t forget to join us on Tuesdays for our live music nights for more fun and relaxation.
Creating Your Own Review Response Guide
Now that we’ve talked about the importance of reviews and responding to them — and maybe even shifted your mindset about the opportunity negative reviews present, let’s talk about creating your own Review Response Guide template.
While you never want the review responses to sound automated, it’s important to have a guide for yourself and your team to take the guesswork out of the process.
Use elements from the suggested template suggestions below to create your own Review Response Guide.
- Introduce yourself and your position/role on the team.
- Thank them for taking the time to write and share their experience or appreciation.
- Show empathy (especially if this is a negative review). Example: “I’m sorry your experience was…”
- Share or Reinforce your business’s standards and values. Example: “…We strive to ________.”
- If the situation warrants it — offer a refund or discount on another service to offset inconvenience or give your company another opportunity to serve them.
- Also, if the situation warrants more information, direct the conversation offline or to a more private exchange.
SAMPLE NEGATIVE REVIEW RESPONSES
Here is a quick sample of a response template from the experts at Review Trackers —
Sample 1 — Dear [NAME OF REVIEWER], thanks for sharing your feedback. We’re sorry your experience didn’t match your expectations. It was an uncommon instance, and we’ll do better in the future.
Please feel free to reach out to [INSERT CONTACT INFORMATION] with any further comments, concerns, or suggestions you wish to share. We would love to make things right if you give us another chance.
Sample 2 — Thank you for your review. I’m sorry to hear you had such a frustrating experience, but I really appreciate you bringing this issue to my attention.
We would like the opportunity to investigate your feedback further. Please could you contact me at [Email Address] or call our team at [Phone Number]? We’ll work with you to resolve any issues as quickly as possible.
Sample 3 — We are sorry that your experience at [Company Name] didn’t quite match your expectations. We would love to know why so that we can deliver a better experience next time. You may reach us anytime at [Email Address] or [Phone Number]. Again, thank you for your feedback!
Pro-Tips to Remember
- Note the difference between I’m Sorry and I Apologize — and use them appropriately.
I’m sorry — This is empathizing with the customer without taking the blame. In some cases, the issue is not directly your fault, but it’s nice to empathize with the customer’s frustrations.
I apologize — This is explicitly taking responsibility for the issue at hand. When it is the company’s fault, it’s important to acknowledge it.
- Keep your exchanges brief.
- Be polite, but also be firm.
Don’t feel as though you have to be overly apologetic, as this can come across as unprofessional on the other end.
When it comes to your review response process, experts recommend —
- Creating a review response policy.
- Assigning ownership or responsibility of responding to reviews promptly — or ensuring the team does.
When it comes to responding to positive reviews —
- Thank the customers.
- Remind them that you would like to see them — and give them a reason to do so.
- Tell them about other products or services that they would like/enjoy, even if that is a reminder to sign up for your email newsletter to be the first to know about deals and new products.
- Share those compliments with your team — and use those reviews in your marketing efforts.
Written by Corrie McGee
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