How to respond to negative reviews – business owners guide

Responding to negative reviews is the key to creating a positive online reputation for your business. Many businesses dread negative reviews, without understanding that they can be efficiently managed and can have a positive impact on your business. In this user guide, we will focus on the following areas of how to respond to negative reviews:

  • Why customer post negative reviews
  • Importance of negative reviews for your business
  • Should I respond to negative reviews?
  • Responding to negative reviews: reasons why you should
  • You got a negative review: What’s the next step?
  • Basics of responding to negative reviews
  • How to respond to a poor review on Facebook or Google?
  • Things to avoid while responding to negative reviews
  • How to avoid negative reviews in the first place?


How to respond to negative reviews

Why customers post negative reviews

No one likes to read bad reviews about their business, but the fact is that you will have to deal with at least some negative reviews at some point in time.

How to respond to negative reviews:

If you get a negative review for your business, it does not mean that your product or service is bad. The review could have been a result of mismatched expectation. Not all customers that you work with are going to leave your business happy – despite your best efforts.

Having a plan in place for responding to negative reviews, however, will prepare you for this eventuality.

It’s important to understand why the customer posted a negative review about your business. Poor customer service, rude staff members, long wait times and poor-quality products or services will be top reasons for a customer to leave negative feedback.

However, it is important to keep an eye on fake negative reviews on TripAdvisor, Facebook, Google and other review sites. Your rivals might just be trying to pull down your reputation.

Importance of negative reviews for your business

Negative reviews are essential for both businesses and customers. They provide a balance between positive reviews and help build credibility among your customers. Here are a few reasons why negative reviews are a boon for your business:

They prove your reviews are genuine

A mix of negative and positive reviews shows that all your reviews are genuine. Research shows that customers trust reviews more when they see a mix of positive and negative reviews.

They help in making informed purchase decisions

In addition to increasing customers’ trust in your business, negative reviews give potential customers a true picture of what they can expect from your brand. They also give buyers additional details and insights that are otherwise not available.

They surface problems and, sometimes, solutions

Negative reviews are a compelling way to delve deep into issues with your local business. How to respond to negative reviews : Listening to customer feedback presents a great opportunity to respond and fix problems that your customers are experiencing.

All reviews, positive or negative, have an important place in your online reputation. The key is to smartly respond to the feedback and use it to your advantage to grow your business.


Responding to negative reviews – Should I do it?

When it comes to responding to negative reviews, the short answer is “Yes!”

Many businesses think that it is only necessary to respond to positive reviews by appreciating the customer for their feedback and thanking them. However, it is crucial to understand the importance of responding to negative reviews as a damage-control measure and to demonstrate to future customers that you are open to resolving issues.


Responding to negative reviews: 4 reasons why you should do it

Research shows that if your business has one to three negative reviews, there are chances of you losing about 67% of customers. Also, 92% of customers check online ratings and reviews before making a purchase, and 40% of them form an impression of your business’ reputation based on those reviews.

When so many customers rely on the opinions of fellow customers, the weight of negative online reviews becomes heavy.

How to respond to negative reviews: Here are 4 reasons why you should respond to negative reviews about your business.

1.  Change the perception of prospective customers and the reviewer

A recent study shows that 7 out of 10 customers changed their opinion about a business after the business owners responded to their negative reviews. Moreover, when prospective customers see a response from the business owner, they have a higher intent to make a purchase from that business.

2. Prove that you pay attention to customer service

Responding to negative reviews shows that you are acknowledging your customer’s concerns and listening to them. Customers want to be heard and responded to. If your customers feel that you care about their problems and provide them with a solution, there is a better chance of them updating the review or removing it altogether.

3. Gain insights

By responding to negative reviews, you are giving your business a chance to gain insights from customers. You can even take the conversation offline and get in touch with the customer via phone or email to understand their issue in detail. Better insights can help you quickly fix problems so that other customers don’t face the same issues.

4. Build a strong bond with your customers

Once you respond to a negative review, you start a conversation with the customer. This can be leveraged to build a stronger relationship and turn the reviewer into a loyal customer. Keep the communication going until their issue is addressed and show that you appreciate them bringing the concern to your notice.

Read also: How to turn a negative review into an opportunity for your business


You got a negative review: What’s the next step?

Here’s what you can do to ensure that the negative review does not hurt your reputation.

Stay calm, don’t press the panic button

How to respond to negative reviews

Think about the reasons why negative reviews are a blessing for your business and don’t panic. Stay calm and take the next step responding tactfully to the negative feedback. See an example of what we mean by “panic button” below.

Respond to the negative reviews

Knowing how to respond to bad reviews is a great way to improve your online reputation and increase sales. Show your customers that you care about them and address their concerns. Remember that your customers pay attention to how you respond to them and resolve their issues.

Use the negative feedback to improve your products and services

Instead of fretting about negative customer reviews, use them to understand the loopholes in your products and services. Try to put an end to bad reviews by addressing core issues.

Keep the conversation going

Make sure that you follow-up with the customer until the customer’s issue has been resolved. A happy customer can help you by updating their negative review or removing it altogether.

Get more positive reviews

While responding to negative reviews is important, it is equally important to minimize the impact of negative publicity, it is important to get more positive feedback coming in for your business.


The basics of responding to negative reviews

View negative reviews as an opportunity and responding to negative reviews tactfully to turn the negative feedback into a positive experience for your customer.

Here are a few helpful tips on how to respond to a bad review:


By apologizing, you show your customers that you are hearing them and are acknowledging their concerns.

Don’t react, respond

The worst thing you can do is let your emotions drive your response. Avoid becoming defensive even if the negative feedback sounds unfair. A defensive approach or list of excused will only make the situation worse. Give yourself some time before you respond.

Offer a solution

Offering a concrete solution to the problem is more important than merely apologizing. The solution should show that you’ve put an effort in the response and aren’t just posting a canned response.

Offer to take the conversation offline

In case of a very angry customer, you can offer to speak to them offline. Post the offer in your response and explain that this will help you ensure that the problem is resolved quickly.

Say “Thank You”

Show that you appreciate their time and feedback. Be sympathetic to their concerns and thank them for taking the time to help you build a stronger business.

Share the positive things about your company

Leverage the situation to talk about some of the good things your company is doing to ensure customer satisfaction. This can help counteract the negative feedback and give your customer a broader picture of your efforts to address their concerns.

Read also: 8 great examples of doctors responding to negative feedback

How to respond to negative reviews on Facebook and Google

Positive or negative reviews on sites like Facebook and Google can make or break your brand’s online reputation. In the previous section, we talked about the basics of how to respond to bad reviews. Let’s now have a detailed look at how you can respond to negative reviews on Facebook and Google.

Leverage the “Comment” and “Reply” section to respond

It is important to respond to the issues and concerns of your customers. Choosing not to respond and hoping that the issue will get resolved on its own is a recipe for more negative reviews. Moreover, your followers will get the impression that you are not concerned about customer experience.

A response that shows an understanding of the customer’s concerns will display your intent to resolve the problem.

Draft a personalized response

Facebook’s tag-a-friend feature is helpful in formulating a personalized response and encouraging a positive result.

Write a concise response that is not confrontational. Address specific questions and acknowledge each of the customer’s concerns.

On both, Google and Facebook, avoid using your business details in the response. This will make it less likely that the bad review will appear in online search results.

Be patient and sympathetic

While dealing with an upset customer, understand their frustrations and don’t immediately adopt a defensive approach. Step back and put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Whether or not it’s your fault, a polite apology can help a great deal in retaining the customer.

By being patient and sympathetic towards the customer’s concerns, you stand a much better chance of resolving any issues and having the customer continue to use your business..

Talk to the customer over private messages

Taking the conversation offline by sending a private message over the Facebook Messenger (in case of Facebook reviews) or emailing the customer opens the door to addressing their concerns. Whether you are extending them an invitation to visit your office or making up for the bad experience by providing an additional discount, moving the conversation from a public platform to private can help add a personal touch. Also, publicly offering special discounts can lead to problems with other customers who may want to cash in as well. It’s best to keep these ideas off public forums.

Continue the conversation until the issue is resolved

As a rule, Facebook admins do not allow you to remove negative reviews. It’s best to keep the conversation flowing till the customer’s concerns are addressed. Follow-up on regular intervals and keep posting updates about the status of the resolution. Once the issue has been resolved, politely ask the customer to take down their review or update it with a positive note. A negative review can be a good thing, provided the last comment by the reviewer is positive.

Feel the review is fake? Your last resort

If you feel that the Facebook review is fake, report the review and request Facebook to take it down. You may come across fraudulent customers who are blatantly hostile and only active to continue the argument. It’s best to flag the reviews in such cases.


Things to avoid while responding to negative reviews

Don’t be defensive

It’s natural to get upset as soon as you spot a negative review, but, responding to negative reviews in an aggressive tone is something that you must avoid. There are high chances of your response spiraling into a viral post on social media.

Avoid taking the defensive route and empathize with the customer.  Even if the complaint is unfounded, avoid sound rude.

Avoid getting pulled into an unpleasant conversation

Even though your first response is polite and apologetic, you may encounter a customer who wants to keep the conversation going and complaining.

If your conversation begins to escalate into an unpleasant one, offer the customer to get in touch with you offline. If you continue to engage with a customer who wants to pick a fight, other customers might view it as your negative point as compared to your competitors.

Avoid publishing fake positive reviews

It’s not a good idea to hide negative reviews by posting fake positive reviews about your business. It’s good to keep the momentum going by actively asking for reviews, but the best reviews come from customers who get a natural urge to write words of appreciation for your service and customer experience. It is not difficult to spot fake positive reviews between the genuine customer reviews.


How to avoid negative reviews?

In an effort to help businesses improve their online reputation, we’ve put together helpful tips the businesses should follow to avoid getting bad reviews from customers.

Focus on great customer service

Exceptional customer service is the key. There is no remedy for habitual complainers, but a majority of the customers do appreciate great customer service and will review your business accordingly

Understand the perfect timing to solicit feedback

The best time to collect feedback from customers is immediately after the delivery of the product or completion of the service. Find ways to continuously collect feedback. Once the feedback starts flowing in, use it and implement the necessary changes.

Create a dedicated platform for customer complaints

Create a separate space for customer queries and concerns. Let customers know about the different channels they can use to get in touch with you, such as Twitter, Facebook, website contact form, etc. Help them understand that the best way to get their issue resolved is by contacting the company’s customer service team rather than posting the issues on review platforms.

Quickly respond to customer feedback

There’s no point in having a review system if a response strategy for the same is not in place. If you come across any customer feedback about your business, become a part of it by posting a response. Let the customer know that you have taken their issue into consideration and are working on it. Responding to a bad review using humility and grace and not sounding too defensive is a good approach. Template responses are not what your customers are expecting from you. Personalized responses are the key to the great customer experience.

Display accurate information about the product or service

Customers are often annoyed if a product or service does not meet their expectation. To ensure that this does not result in negative reviews, provide sufficient information on the product or service page such as description, images, questions & answers and customer reviews.

Keep your promises

When it comes to delivery timelines and your availability to hear your customers, try abiding by your claims. If you keep your promises, they’ll have no reason to post negative feedback about your business.

In the end, everything trickles down to the fact the negative reviews are not bad and responding to negative reviews is critical. They can help your business, they are easy to manage, and you can easily avoid them by following some basic tips and getting more positive reviews for your business.

Comprehensive online reputation management solutions like BirdEye, give your business the ability to fully harness the power of your online reviews. With BirdEye, you can get a steady stream of fresh reviews, manage the feedback, respond to it immediately and share it on your social media pages.

Sign up for a free trial now to see how BirdEye’s review generation, review monitoring, review management and review marketing solutions can benefit your business.


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