As a business owner, you know to expect a negative review from time to time. No matter how hard you work or how awesome your product is, you can’t please everyone.
At the same time, reviews are a key metric customers use when choosing where to spend their money. In fact, a Podium survey found that 93% of consumers report factoring in online reviews when making a purchase decision.
Although it’s tempting to avoid negative reviews, they actually present an opportunity to uphold your business’ reputation. If you respond appropriately, you can control the narrative. Read on to find out how.
Why Is It Important to Respond to Negative Reviews?
If most of your reviews are positive, a random negative review here and there might seem like no big deal. You may want to ignore them completely – but this is not the best way to handle the situation. In a recent survey, 45% of respondents said they’re more likely to shop with a business if it replies to bad reviews.
In the same survey, 53% of customers said they expect a response to negative reviews within one week. So, while a bad review has the potential to damage your business, you do have a chance to correct the situation. If you respond quickly and efficiently, you could earn customers rather than push them away.
6 Ways to Respond to Negative Reviews
1. Say Thank You
Customers want to feel heard, so it’s important to start your response by thanking them for bringing the issue to light. This approach gives you a chance to control the way people perceive your and your business.
This shows the customer and everyone else that you value honest feedback. You’re displaying strong ethics by encouraging reviews and acknowledging the issue. Here are a couple of templates you can use to accomplish this:
“Thank you for taking the time to bring this issue to our attention. We’re sorry to hear you had a bad experience with [list the issue here].”
“Thank you for your feedback. I’m so sorry you had a poor experience and your comments will help us do better in the future.”
2. Take Responsibility
When you receive negative feedback as a business owner, it can be hard not to take it personally and place blame on the customer. After all, you know exactly what is and is not included in your product or service. You know your processes, and you know how you advertise them correctly.
Some negative reviews can be the result of miscommunication about these elements of your business. This may be at no fault of your own, or it could be a true error. In either case, customers want to see a business take responsibility for issues rather than lashing out.
Here are a few examples of how you can show that you’re taking responsibility:
“We’re sorry for the inconvenience. Your experience is our top priority and we’re disappointed to hear that our [service/product] did not meet your expectations. We appreciate that you brought this to our attention and will use your feedback to improve.”
“We set a high standard for ourselves and we’re sorry to hear that we missed the mark during your interaction with our business.”
3. Give an Explanation
In some cases, your response to a negative review can be a short apology and promise to do better. However, some situations may warrant an explanation. This can allow you to clear the air, provide information that was missing during the customer’s experience, and correct the misunderstanding.
Still, providing more information does not mean making an excuse for the issue. You should still apologize and take responsibility.
You can typically provide an explanation when there’s a miscommunication, technical problem, or an issue outside of your control. Here’s an example of this in action:
“We are so sorry that you had a bad experience. We understand that you did not receive your product within the timeframe we promised. Unfortunately, we experienced a major technical issue with our delivery partner that caused delays in shipping. As a result, we didn’t meet our commitment to you. We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused you and have worked diligently to resolve the issue.”
4. Provide Next Steps
Aside from a desire to feel heard, customers generally leave bad reviews because they want to find a solution. By offering a resolution, you show the customer that you’re addressing their issue and not just providing the same apology you give everyone.
The next steps will depend on each individual complaint. For example, you might offer:
- A free service or product to make up for an unsatisfactory one
- Priority scheduling if there was an issue with an appointment
- A full refund if the situation warrants it.
In some cases, you may not be able to resolve the issue, but you can let the customer know what improvements you’re making in response to their feedback. Consider using the following template:
“Thank you for taking the time to provide this feedback. I am so sorry to hear that our [product or service] didn’t meet the mark. Your experience is our number one priority and we take great pride in our offerings. While we can’t change the past, we’d love to make this right by offering you [solution]. I’ve sent you a message via the email we have on file so that we can discuss this further.”
5. Be Personable
Adding a personal touch to your responses can let the reviewer know that you’re a real person providing a genuine response. This can greatly improve your reputation and set you apart from other companies.
First, be sure to use the reviewer’s name if it’s available. If they’ve left the review using Google or Facebook reviews, you’ll have the customer’s name. If they left a review on Yelp or another platform, they still have the option to include their name. Be sure to begin your response by addressing them by their name rather than a generic term like “customer” or “valued patron.”
When you close out your response, include your name and contact details if appropriate. For example, you might say:
“Again, I apologize for the inconvenience. Please feel free to reach out to me at [phone number or email].
[Your Name] (Owner)”
6. Ask for Another Chance
Don’t assume that a negative reviewer will never shop with you again. If you’ve responded quickly and appropriately to their issue, you can still earn their business. By inviting them back so you can redeem yourself, you also show that you have a sense of goodwill and cooperation.
There are a few ways to do this:
- Offer a discount on their next product or service
- Invite them to ask for you by name next time they visit
- Offer to prioritize their next appointment
Here’s a template you can use:
“We would really appreciate another opportunity to earn your business. Next time you shop with us, I’d love to offer you [a discount, priority scheduling, or personalized service.] Please reach out to me at [contact information] for further details.”
How to Respond to Neutral Reviews
Although they seem less pressing, it’s also important to reply to neutral reviews. Every review warrants a response and offers a chance to build customer trust. Plus, responding to reviews can boost your local SEO and ultimately make it easier to rank within the top results in relevant Google searches.
Neutral reviews can be quite varied. They may have both positive and negative feedback, or they might just be generally unenthusiastic about your product or service. You should tailor your response to their feedback, but it can look something like this:
“Thanks for sharing your feedback, [name]. We appreciate your thoughtful comments on [product or service they liked], but we’re sorry to hear we didn’t meet your expectations with [product or service they didn’t like.] We apologize for the issue and are taking steps to correct it. We’d love a chance to improve and offer a stellar experience next time. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at [contact information], we’d be happy to assist you further!”
The Benefits of Working with Pay.com as Your Payment Service Provider
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The Bottom Line
Unfortunately, negative reviews are part of owning a business. Although it can feel uncomfortable to respond to them, they provide an opportunity to take control of your reputation. When you reply quickly with the appropriate tone and solution, you can turn many negative reviews into positive interactions.
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