How to Effectively Respond to Negative Reviews Online [4 Steps]

Yelp, Google Reviews, and Facebook reviews are a powerful tool for businesses, but they come with substantial danger.  For example, in September viral media star, Nurset Gokce, better known as Salt Bae, had his Yelp profile bombarded with bad reviews after serving a controversial leader in his Istanbul restaurant. A Long Island, NY, dress shop owner, found herself on the receiving end of a poor review that suddenly went viral and reached million of people overnight.

Review sites are a double-edged sword in many ways. While positive reviews can bolster your business, and bring new consumers to your establishment, a poor review can lead to a loss of potential revenue. While one bad review in a sea of positives might not seem like a big deal, it is essential to address any negatives that may come your way, whether that is on Facebook, through Yelp or directly via Google’s reviewing platform.

Addressing negative reviews is also a delicate practice and one you need to do carefully to avoid making a situation worse. Thankfully, there are a few tips that will ensure you react to negative reviews in a way that can turn frowns upside down, and make a formerly disgruntled customer into a delighted one.

1. Acknowledge the Issue

You should always acknowledge the issues that pop up on review sites. In fact, consumers are more likely to give establishments with negative reviews a chance if they see management is actively engaged in clearing up problems and misunderstandings. By acknowledging the complaint, you are showing the reviewer and other viewers that you care about what they say about your business, even if it isn’t good feedback.

Acknowledge reviewers both good and bad for their feedback by simply stating: “We appreciate all feedback we receive.”

When it comes to positive reviews, do thank the consumer for their feedback. End your response by letting them know you are looking forward to serving them again.

If the review is negative, start by thanking the customer for letting you know there was an issue “Thank you for letting us know there was a problem with your service, we appreciate all feedback, even negative feedback, so we can enhance our practices to serve you better.”

2. Apologize

An apology goes a long way with angry customers. Let them know that you acknowledge the shortcoming by apologizing for it, and offering a way to make it right in the future. For example, a dental office may extend the owner of the business as a sounding board to a dissatisfied customer who has worked with an employee. A customer angry with their delivery time may be perfectly appeased with a simple apology and a promise of timely delivery in the future.

3. Be Authentic

Whatever you do, make sure that each reply is personalized and authentic. Consumers who are angry with a company do not want to see the same response that a previously dissatisfied customer received. Make sure that all of your replies are personalized and actively address the concerns of the angered consumer. Address them by name, mention the particular issue they mention and offer an apology that directly relates to the problem they have written about. Most people are able to see the reality of the situation when there are tons of likes and positive reviews and only a few negative.

4. Offer Compensation When Necessary (but privately…)

It is best to avoid offering compensation for a poor review directly on the site, instead, consider emailing a customer to provide compensation that might make up for their bad experience. For example, if a restaurant owner receives a poor review on Yelp, it is best to apologize publicly, but the reach out privately to the reviewer to offer a discount or a free meal (depending on the nature of the experience) as compensation. Not only will the reviewer see that you are going to extra mile to compensate them for a poor experience, but you avoid other reviewers seeing you throw free meals around for poor reviews.

Negative reviews for a business are often just part of doing business. After all, you can’t please all of the people all of the time, but how you respond to negative feedback can indeed make or break your business. If you’d like to learn more about how to best address negative reviews on Facebook, Google or Yelpcontact us today.

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