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How to Respond to Negative Reviews in 6 Easy Steps


A package that doesn’t arrive on time, a restaurant that delivers the wrong food, the doctor’s office that forgets to log a patient’s appointment… Whenever a customer has a problem with your product or service—or even when they don’t—you run the risk of a bad review.

Unfortunately, your online reputation suffers whether your negative reviews are unfairly given or well-deserved. Today we’re sharing not only how to respond to negative reviews, but also how to use them as a marketing tool that actually benefits your business.

The importance of responding to negative reviews

Yes, ignoring a negative review is tempting, but definitely don’t! While responding to negative online reviews isn’t fun, the task is never a waste of time. In fact, ignoring negative reviews indicates to your customers that you don’t care about their feedback or experience with your product. And that is definitely not the message you want to communicate.

Taking the time to interact with customers—whether they’re expressing concerns, praises or complaints—shows that your business is active and responsive. You’re demonstrating that you’re a concerned business owner who puts the customer first, values their feedback and prioritizes their needs. A reputation for caring is far more valuable than any other marketing you can do.

And a positive, useful response to negative comments often results in turning a detractor into a lifelong customer.

So how do you respond to a negative review?

The team at Review Point recommends the following six steps to respond to negative reviews in a way that is beneficial to the customer and your brand reputation.

Step 1: Keep calm, and don’t panic

When you see that first negative comment about your business, naturally fear sets in. But don’t panic!

Take a deep breath, and remember:

  • Bad online reviews happen;
  • Negative feedback isn’t the end of the world; and
  • There is a way to turn a negative review into a positive.

One or two bad reviews won’t immediately destroy your company. So focus on that fact that you know how to respond, and take action right away.

Step 2: Respond to the negative review

Many times a grumpy or disappointed customer just wants to be heard. If the customer feels you’re listening to them, and that you’re happy to resolve their problem, that may be enough to defuse the situation. Did you know that customers who get an efficient, first-contact resolution to their problem are twice as likely to use your product or service again? So answering negative (and positive!) reviews quickly and promptly is essential.

Pro tip: Don’t respond to reviews when you’re hungry or angry! If you feel upset, step away from your computer, and take a break. As difficult as it is, try to put the review in perspective. Complaints are an unavoidable part of doing business. And the response process will be a lot easier if you have a plan in place to guide you.

With that in mind, develop a set of standard, short responses to both negative and positive comments that give you a starting point for your answer. But when responding to negative reviews, never use the same canned responses repeatedly. Customize each one according to the individual feedback of the customer. Copying and pasting the same response doesn’t make the customer feel heard and will probably make the situation worse.

Step 3: Find the positive in the negative

When you receive a negative customer review, take the time to consider what the person wrote. Did they have a bad experience at your location? What was wrong? What did they expect? If you answer these questions and understand what happened, you may have the opportunity to identify and correct internal procedures. And, in the end, that’s a win for you and your company.

Step 4: Keep an eye on the feedback

Being aware of what your customers are saying about your business is essential. If you don’t know what’s being said about your company not just your brand reputation, but also your profits, can suffer as a result. As a baseline, keep track of:

  • Why people leave negative reviews about your company;
  • Whether you have as many five-star as one-star reviews;
  • The sites your customers use to leave reviews about your company; and
  • If the reviews seem trustworthy or fake.

With the help of a powerful review monitoring tool, you can easily keep track of your customer feedback on all the top online review sites. This gives you the crucial online reputation management that is vital to every business.

Step 5: Apologize

Apologizing is an important step to repairing a bad customer experience—even when the problem is not necessarily on your side. Although you may not want to say your sorry, a sincere apology goes a long way toward turning the negative into a positive.

And there’s no need for the apology to be long. A simple apology accompanied by a proposed solution is always the best response.

Step 6: Say “Thank You”

Again, this interaction is an opportunity to show your customers their opinion matters to your business. Always thank the customer for their feedback, even if what they said is negative.

Negative online reviews do influence the way potential customers think about your business. Your reputation not only depends on how you represent your business, but also what customers share about their experience. So even when you don’t want to, follow these six steps and respond to negative reviews. The outcome will only ever be a positive impact on your brand reputation!

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