Responding to negative online reviews

Any business, brand, company, or service provider will eventually disappoint a customer. It’s a cost of doing business, but it’s exactly why a little thing called “customer service” exists.

Even the best businesses receive negative feedback and online complaints, but how you respond is what separates great companies from mediocre ones. If your company is the subject of a negative online review, here’s how you should respond.

The first thing to do is identify the author. Who posted the review? Was the negative online review from a first-time customer, a long-time customer, or a semi-regular customer?

If you feel your business or brand is the victim of fake online reviews, then read – How To Handle Fake Online Reviews.

If the customer complaint seems legit, here are four tips on how to respond to negative online reviews.

  1. Keep your cool.
    If someone has left you a review that is blown completely out of proportion, then it is human nature to become angry and defensive. As a small business owner, you can’t afford this luxury. Stay calm. Compose yourself and reply to the post with your side of the story and an apology to the writer of the review for his or her bad experience. Ask the author to return to your business to allow you to make their negative experience better, and even offer a coupon to entice your customer back.
  2. Learn from your mistakes.
    Though they are often difficult to digest, negative reviews are opportunities to improve. Listen to what your customers have to say, and if they mention something you can improve upon, take the opportunity to do so. Be sure to respond to the post and thank your customer for pointing out the problem, sharing their feedback, and be sure to let the writer know you are taking steps to correct it right away.
  3. Inform your customers and make yourself available.
    Whether your reviews are positive or negative, communicating with your customers is key. Create and share content on a regular basis through multiple channels. Even if changes don’t seem like a big deal to you, they can sometimes impact the happiness of your customers. Let them know of any changes in hours, fee or price changes, upcoming promotions and available coupons. Also, be sure your customers know they may always contact you directly with any questions or concerns they may have, and make sure they know how!
  4. Apologize, offer a remedy, and sometimes simply move on.
    Unfortunately, you may find the same person has taken an deep-seeded dislike to you or your business, and has decided to repeatedly give you negative online reviews. Make an initial effort to address the problem in a professional manner, but if the customer is unwilling to accept an apology, or is simply being unreasonable, sometimes the best thing to do is move on.

These tips on how to address negative online reviews should serve as a guide. Remember, you are only human and not every customer interaction will be a pleasant one, but when negative customer feedback surfaces online or through social media, do your best to immediately address it, apologize, and offer a solution.

Moreover, encourage your customers to provide you with feedback on a regular basis – both positive and negative. Positive reviews will help attract new business and negative reviews are a great opportunity to keep your existing business.