We can all agree on one thing: negative reviews are no fun. Not for the business, nor for the person writing the review. This next statement might shock you though: getting a negative review is not a bad thing. Think about it: a low grade makes you study harder, a poor game makes you train harder, and ultimately you’re better than you were before the disappointing results. Negative reviews are the same. When handled correctly, negative reviews make your business better. They carry invaluable feedback about your business performance that financial metrics cannot convey. Negative reviews are inevitable for even the most successful businesses, so let’s accept that and make the most of them.
Here are 5 tips for responding to negative reviews in a way that converts them into business opportunities:
- Know the facts
Before responding to negative reviews, take some time to understand the context. Read the review thoroughly, perhaps have your team members read it, and ask questions. Try to put yourself in the shoes of your customer and think about how you would feel in their situation. Identify whether there was a misunderstanding or if your business was at fault, consider the circumstances that may have led to this incident and whether they could have been avoided, and note if this has happened before. Gathering this background information will put you in a better position to respond thoughtfully to the reviewer.
- Correct any false information
Misinformation can seriously damage your business. While you want to give credit to your reviewer for pointing out their concerns, you should also graciously correct any inaccurate statements the customer has made about your business. This helps clear up the facts for prospective customers who come across the review. When doing this, it’s important to avoid 1) sounding defensive and 2) making the customer feel stupid. Rather, in your response, imply that this was an easy mistake to make and do your best to offer some sort of solution. Remember, the customer is always right, even when they’re wrong.
- Address the customer’s concerns
If you believe that your customer is pointing out issues that are relevant and legitimate, your focus should shift to solving the problem. It could be as simple as improving your office setup. Or it could be as difficult as making complex changes to the services you offer. In your response, tell the customer what steps you’re taking to solve their problem and assure them it won’t happen again. Once you’ve sorted out the problem, don’t forget to reach out to the customer again and confirm they are satisfied. Taking the time to follow-up can make even more of an impact than the actual problem-solving. This thoughtful gesture could even lead the customer to edit or delete their negative review. Most importantly, it could bring them back to your business.
- Be quick about it
A customer leaving a negative review wants to be heard, not just by you, but by the community. A negative review is a public complaint that, left unattended, reflects extremely poorly on your business. On the other hand, if you jump on it immediately with a thoughtful reply and tangible solution, you can change the mind of the reviewer: when prospects come across the review, rather than seeing an angry complaint, they’ll see a caring business addressing a frustrating situation with knowledge and compassion.
- Try connecting with the customer offline
For more complex issues, you should also try and connect with the customer offline to get more information and make them aware of the steps that you’re taking to solve the problem. This simple step can be enough to lead customers to follow up their negative review with a positive one.
Negative reviews give more power to the positive
Customers know that negative reviews are practically inevitable. According to research, 95% of customers suspect censorship or fake reviews if they don’t see any negative reviews for a business or product. A negative review here and there reinforces the credibility of your positive reviews. Instead of running from negative reviews, focus on responding appropriately to build trust with your prospective customers.
If you’re willing to listen to your customers and take their feedback to heart to improve your services, you’ll come out ahead in the long run. There are tools out there that make it easy to take control of negative feedback before it becomes problematic. BirdEye sends you alerts the moment a negative review is left for your business and lets you respond immediately to all reviews from one place. Sign up for a free BirdEye trial to see how easy it can be to manage your online reputation, address negative feedback, and generate more authentic positive reviews that win more customers.