Receiving a bad review can be very scary for a small business, as most people tend to look at a company’s reviews when deciding whether or not to do business with them. However, if the situation is handled correctly, these negative online reviews can end up helping your business. So how exactly should a small business respond to a bad review? How do you turn a negative review into a positive for your business? Let’s start with the basics.
Learn How to Respond to Bad Reviews
While small businesses tend to heavily rely on word-of-mouth advertising and reputation, it is important to understand that this situation is inevitable. Unfortunately, your business most likely will receive some negative reviews. No business is perfect. However, you can use these negative reviews to your advantage. Let’s talk about the steps you can take in order to minimize the damage.
While a bad online review does not feel great, one bad business review surrounded by a ton of good reviews does help minimize the damage. The best defense is a good offense. Consider developing a business strategy where you continually ask customers to review your business online in order to ensure you are constantly outweighing the bad reviews with positive reviews. Additionally, having several Google reviews on your business will help increase your website’s ranking on the Google algorithm, therefore giving your business more credibility overall.
Monitor Review Sites
Another important step is to become consistently present on popular review sites in order to ensure you notice the bad online reviews and are able to address them in a timely manner. According to the Local Marketing Institute, Yelp, Google, and Facebook are the three most important local business review sites, but it is equally important to monitor other regional or industry-specific sites. When you notice a bad review, do not ignore it. This concept will undeniably not make a bad review go away, and will hurt your reputation and your relationship with the upset customer.
Cool Down First
It can be tempting to run with your emotions and jump at the chance to defend your business. However, it is crucial to take the time to cool down before developing and positing a direct response to a customer. Attempt to look at the issue and situation from the customer’s perspective. While you should not respond to the review immediately, you should still act relatively quickly. Ideally, you should respond within a couple of days.
Develop a Response
After setting your personal emotions aside, it is now time to draft a reply to the bad review. Make sure to keep your reply both short and professional. While it is important to address the concerns of your customer, you also want to consider how your response will look to others. Try to impress any potential future customers who are reading your business reviews while they decide whether or not to do business with your company. Simple tips for drafting a response to a bad online review include:
- Pay attention to the tone of your response. Remain polite. Empathize with the customer.
- Focus on making your response useful and practical.
- Thank your customer for taking the time to bring the problems of your business to your attention.
- Use your customer’s name in order to make the response feel more personal and to build a connection with your customer.
- If applicable, show that you have taken the necessary steps to resolve the issue. In proving a negative online review to be inaccurate, consider adding photos or some other form of evidence to back up your rebuttal instead of simply stating your argument.
- Ask the customer to contact you so you can help make things right. Encourage them to contact you directly.
- Consider asking for a second chance. Invite them to come back to your business. This will help establish your confidence in your ability to make things right.
Tips for Responding to Bad Online Reviews
While these tips will help you develop a solid response to a negative online review, there are also several things to keep in the back of your mind in order to ensure professionalism and a positive outcome. For starters, do not respond to the same bad review multiple times. Getting in a back-and-forth argument would make your team appear unprofessional. You should also focus on diffusing the situation, not drawing it out or making it worse. You need to be careful in your word choice, tone, and message in order to ensure that your response will not make the customer more upset, as that will directly and immediately make the situation much worse.
Another important factor to focus on is how you handle defending your business if the customer’s review is simply inaccurate. As mentioned earlier, adding some form of evidence to the review will make your business appear to be more credible. However, do not forget the common mentality that “the customer is always right.” Instead of simply proving their inaccuracy, try to word your response more as a learning opportunity than as an insult to their intelligence.
Example of How to Respond to Bad Online Reviews
Now that you know how to respond to bad reviews, there is a good template from Review Trackers that mimics a polite and professional tone:
Dear [NAME OF REVIEWER], thank you for sharing your feedback. We are sorry your experience did not match your expectations. It was an uncommon instance and we will do better in the future.
Please feel free to reach out to [INSERT CONTACT INFORMATION] with any further comments, concerns, or suggestions you wish to share. We would love to make things right if you give us the chance.
While this template is a great reference, it is essential to keep in mind that each situation will vary and to adjust accordingly.
Are There Any Benefits to Receiving Negative Online Reviews?
Surprisingly enough, there are several positive outcomes that can rise from a negative review. Customer feedback is an essential part of improving business performance and should be taken very seriously. Use your bad online reviews to your benefit. Learn from their complaints by improving your company and finding other attributes that may have contributed to the issue. Stopping the problem at the source is a great preventative tactic as it will stop potential problems that may arise down the road.
Strategies to Reply to Bad Online Reviews
Additionally, the way you respond to the bad online reviews has the potential to earn you more business. Following the steps mentioned prior while writing your response will earn you respect from not only the negative review author, but also from whoever views your response to the negative reviewer.
If you appear polite, knowledgeable, and helpful, the viewer of your response will respect and trust your business, according to a new research study in the Journal of Consumer Research. As mentioned in this study, reviewers who use phrases to soften bad news or negative information, such as “I’ll be honest…,” commonly causes the negative review to not harm sales. Ensuring that your reviewers maintain a polite tone can greatly help minimize damage. Some strategies to encourage polite reviews include:
- Do not be afraid of negative online reviews. Do not delete reviews because they are negative. However, it is important to flag the fake reviews. If you can prove the bad business review is inaccurate or fake, be sure to get it removed and publicly address the incident, all without shaming the reviewer.
- Respond to the negative reviews in a proactive and polite manner. Try to resolve issues whenever you can. Respond publicly when possible to show your commitment to keeping your customers happy.
- Humanize your brand. Post pictures of your office staff or behind-the-scenes insight to remind people that you are human beings. Posting more quality content overall can aid your business in contradicting negative reviews.
What to Do After Handling Bad Business Reviews
Now that you know the important steps on how to respond to bad reviews and how to use them to your business’s advantage, your business is ready to handle these negative reviews. It is important to keep in mind that bad reviews do not mean your business is bad. Most likely, the reviewer’s lack of satisfaction stems from a simple misunderstanding of expectations.
The best way to handle bad online reviews is to get more good ones! Surrounding your bad reviews with a sea of good ones will make your business look that much better. Additionally, the bad reviews will make your good reviews appear more authentic. It can seem suspicious if your business’s page only has positive statements, and consumers typically trust review sites that have a variety of feedback.
When it comes to how to respond to bad reviews, there is a lot a small business should keep in mind. SEO Design Chicago offers reputation management services to help you if you require it!
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