A Guide to Responding to Negative Online Reviews

Aug 5, 2014

A Guide to Responding to Negative Online Reviews

Your business’ online presence is a vital component in the today’s society. This includes maintaining and keeping track of your reviews that show up on sites such as Google, Yelp, Yahoo, and Facebook. Dealing with online reviews can be stressful and it’s never fun to realize that some people won’t like you. No matter how well your company treats their customers, getting some negative reviews is inevitable.

Online reviews are important, as 49% of consumers say they are more likely to visit a business after reading a positive online review. Furthermore, 69% of local consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. So how should you respond when you receive a negative review of your business? Here are some of our tips on dealing with online reviews:

1. Take ownership:

The first step to take is to claim your business on the website that lists your business’ review. Most sites have a “claim this business” link where you can verify your ownership of the business. Once you’ve done that, you can reply to your reviewers. Keep in mind that all of your replies are visible to the public.

2. Don’t write when upset:

If your hands are shaking with rage and you feel the urge to immediately reply to an angry reviewer, take a step back and take deep breaths. If you write with a hot head, you won’t be able to write clearly and represent your company well. Your customers will see that you don’t handle criticism well, and your reply may even spark a comment war with the reviewer. Avoid this at all costs. If there is a reason you are personally angry at the review, consider having another member of your staff write a reply instead.

3. Read and access the review:

Is the reviewer telling the truth? Or does it look like a fake spammer? If the review is filled with lies and you can prove it, contact the administrators of the review site, and be sure to show them any evidence you have.

4. When you should respond and NOT respond:

When you goofed up. We’ll all human and make mistakes. Be honest, own the misstep, and apologize to the customer. Explain why it won’t happen again and what steps you are taking to fix the problem.

When they are mad at the world or it’ll do more harm than good: Some people are just angry. If they seem like they will fire right back if you reply, it may be best to just leave the review as it is. The worst thing you could do is to start up a comment war.

5. Be brief and genuine:

Don’t blame others for the problem, don’t make promises you can’t keep, and don’t be defensive. Write a clear and short reply that owns the issues and explains how your company is taking steps to improve.

6. Provide a way to contact:

List your name and contact information at the end of your reply. This shows your potential customers that a real person is replying and that your business isn’t afraid to discuss the problem with the reviewer.

7. Learn from your criticism:

Use the criticism to improve your business. If you have several reviews that complain about poor service, take steps to train your employees in better customer service. If you have taken clear steps in improving your business, tell your reviewer what you’ve done to improve your business and invite them back.

Your potential customers understand that a business can’t have perfect, glowing reviews. If they see that you are courteous and trying to improve your business, they are likely to ignore the few negative reviews. But if they see you fighting with the reviewer or laying the blame on others, they will quickly move on to another business. With 70% of local consumers using the Internet to find local businesses, maintaining a healthy web presence can greatly improve your business’ potential for success.

Local Fresh provides local companies with the tools and support to build a healthy, growing business.