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How To Reply To Negative Reviews

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While no one wants to hear that they or their company have been anything but superb, it’s simply not possible all the time. As a result, customer complaints and negative reviews happen, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

If a company has only five-star, glowing reviews, people can see it as a red flag. No company can be perfect all the time, so only 5-star reviews could suggest they’re fake or bad ones are being deleted – ultimately, people will believe it’s too good to be true and go elsewhere.

Negative reviews provide an excellent opportunity to display your personality and customer service skills. By making things right with the person leaving a negative review, you’ll not only win back their business, but you’ll probably win the business of others as well.

So, what’s the best way to respond to a negative review?

1. Don’t Take It Personally

If you’re the business owner or the review mentions you specifically, it can be difficult not to take it personally. However, it’s important to remember every mistake is an opportunity to learn a lesson.

Customers don’t know you personally, so don’t take their comments personally.

2. Respond Quickly

When you’ve got a business to run, you need to do a million and one things each day, but negative reviews can harm a company if not addressed quickly.

If not responded to immediately, business owners can forget about the review; therefore, issues remain unresolved.

3. Address The Reviewer Directly/Personalise Your Response

You can find most reviews on Google, Facebook or Feefo, where you’ll probably find a name attached to the review. In which case, use it.

It’s best to avoid generic salutations such as “Dear customer”, as this can suggest a generic response overall. Instead, using their name shows respect and that you’ve read and heard their review. You could also introduce yourself and your role at the company. Again, this helps customers feel listened to and ensures them they’re not talking to a robot.

4. Thank Them

Though you may not be happy to receive negative reviews, they are beneficial. Constructive criticism helps you and your company identify where there are issues, allowing you to remedy them.

Without honest customer feedback, this may not be possible otherwise. So, thank them for taking the time to leave a review. Thanking the customer diffuses the situation and shows other readers that you’re respectful and willing to take the time to resolve issues.

5. Apologise/Sympathise

Though you may have done what was agreed on, the customer thinks otherwise, so put yourself in their position. They’ve paid out money for a service, not received what they expected and are now disappointed.

While you may think it’s the customer who’s in the wrong, apologies anyway. To the customer and others reading your response, they’ll see that you’re not too proud to own up to potential mistakes. Apologising and sympathising allow you to show the human side of your business.

Don’t forget, the way you apologise can make all the difference. Saying “I’m sorry you feel this way” puts the fault onto the customer. Instead, say, “We apologise that our service didn’t meet your expectations”.

6. Don’t Ask Questions

Don’t ask the customer questions about their review/feedback.

Questions will prolong the online conversation and draw more attention to negative reviews. But, unfortunately, it may also suggest you don’t believe the customer, further exacerbating negative feelings towards your company.

7. Take Responsibility

Making excuses will only anger a customer and likely result in a back-and-forth argument online, which is the last thing any business needs or wants.

Providing the customer isn’t entirely out of line; take responsibility for the issue, but use it to reinforce your company values. For example, “We are known for our great eye for detail and regret that we missed the mark in this situation.”

8. Offer A Solution (If Possible)

Once you’ve apologised, it’s time to make things right. If you cannot rectify the situation directly, offer them a discount for use in the future or a full or partial refund – depending on the complaint.

If you’re able to, go back and correct the issue. E.g. if the complaint is about an unlevel radiator, go back and make it level. It will take an hour of your day but completely change how a customer views your business.

9. Keep It Simple

It’s only natural to want to defend yourself and your business when it comes under attack, but you mustn’t do.

Keep your response short, simple and to the point. Generally, people won’t bother to read long replies, and they can come across as defensive and argumentative.

10. Take It Offline

The best way to avoid drawing more attention to a negative review is to take the conversation offline.

In your response to the review, ask them to email you or give you a call to discuss things further. Your tone can be lost online, and resolving an issue in private without others getting involved is much easier.

11. Follow Up/Ask For An Updated Review

After speaking to the customer and reaching a resolution, follow up and ensure they’re happy.

If the answer is yes, ask if they’d consider updating their review to reflect the updated situation.

All data correct at time of publication.