Let’s face it; negative reviews can be a real bummer.
Word-of-mouth—even the virtual kind—can hold a lot of weight when people are deciding the restaurants, stores, and businesses to patronize. Often, businesses lose customers before they ever walk through the doors due to online reviews. So, how should you deal with a negative review if the case arises?
Here’s a short list of important tips and steps for business owners:
Keep a clear head.
- Respond ASAP. However, if a reviewer bashes your business, it can really hurt. It’s okay to take a little time to cool down before responding to a negative review. As a business owner, you have to keep in mind that the reviewer is still the customer and the customer is always right—no matter how wrong they may be.
- Try to get into the reviewer’s head. Does their review seem more like an emotional tirade or a level-headed description of a negative experience? Is there anything they’re saying that you can fix for them?
Be a diplomat.
- Decide whether the review warrants a public or private response. Before posting a public response, consider whether the situation could be rectified by a polite private message. Public messages are better if there is some constructive criticism and you want to show your other customers that you are working to address them.
- Make sure to address the issue. Always remain polite and respectful in your responses. A good way to do this is using other customer’s experiences as a talking point.“Amy, we’re sorry to hear that you didn’t like the meatball sandwich. Our other customers tell us it’s one of their favorite sandwiches on the menu. Maybe you caught us on an off day. We’d love to have you back again.”
- Break it down. Make sure to address the reviewer’s concerns point by point, and break up the response so readers don’t have to wade through a dense response. You want to make it clear that you’ve taken everything into consideration and responded to all their concerns.
- Offer an olive branch*. Sometimes, if your customer has a generally bad experience, it can be good to offer something to get them back in the door. A gift card is a good option, or perhaps a free dessert. The point is that you want to show them that their business is important to you, while also allowing for the opportunity for them to change their review based on a more positive experience.
*Note: Make sure to do this over a private message. Offering a freebie to a disgruntled customer publicly could lead to other reviewers trying to take advantage of your business by writing negative reviews to extort benefits from you or lead to positive reviewers to feel less appreciated.
Keeping up good lines of communication is important in any relationship, especially when one of the parties is unhappy. If you need help with how to deal with negative reviews or managing your online presence to ensure your customers have all their concerns addressed, check out our new reputation services or contact us for more information.