How to Respond to Negative Reviews and How to Maximize Them

You’re doing what you should. You’re running a business, running social media, running marketing, and things are going well. Business is moving along, customers are coming by, people sometimes leave a review. You’re going through your day and you see it, a negative review. It’s more than just a “one star” rating. It’s a scathing diatribe chastising your entire business and everyone who works for it.

Okay, first, take a deep breath. Remember that this is a good thing.

We will tell you why. But we will also tell you what you do to make sure you get the most out of your negative reviews. To get started, let’s get the response taken care of.

Assess and Prepare

What has happened to cause the customer to be so upset? What is the root cause of their problem? 99.9% of the time the customer will outright tell you. This makes the “assessment” part that much simpler. But what’s also important is to assess the actual facts of the matter. Is what they’re saying truthful, provable or accurate?

Look at the image below:

online reputation management reply to negative review

In this, the hotel knows multiple things. Firstly, they know the problem is fixable. They also know that the problem is something much bigger than a simple unhappy customer. What remains to be seen is can the customer be reclaimed.

Sometimes the problem is less clear.

how to respond to negative review online reputation management

In the above image the unhappy customer simply vocalizes an opinion. They provide nothing of real substance to go on. In this instance, the assessment phase is a little harder. How do you move forward here?

You do what you can. While canned responses are not always the best – with reviews that don’t have any substance to work with, a boilerplate response can be used.

As you assess you prepare your response, both online and off.

Empathize and Repeat

When someone is upset they need a few pieces to fall in place before they can even begin to feel as though they have what they want. When replying to someone leaving a negative review, you need to show you “get” them.

Every upset person needs to feel heard and they need to feel understood. There is tremendous power in the phrase, “I’m sorry that this happened. It sounds incredibly frustrating.” Put yourself in their shoes. How would you react? What would you need to feel better?

Keep It Short

Remember, that your review section is not the place to air grievances and correct problems. That is reserved for in person or over the phone. The quicker you can move the conversation offline and one to one, the better you can control the situation.

Plus, talking to someone online won’t abate their frustrations. Human, one-to-one interaction will make them feel better. Get them off the internet and on the phone quickly.

Keep it Actionable

With the last point in mind – getting them offline and communicating one-to-one is the key here. Direct them somewhere to engage with someone who can help them solve their dilemma. Phone numbers are always preferable. Email or online chat doesn’t solve their problem. It just kicks the can down the road for a bit.

Many companies use a ticketing system to help with unhappy customers. The response will contain a link that (when a user fills it out) will put them in a queue for services, thus facilitating the one-to-one connection. If you choose to go this route – let the upset customer know (explicitly) the process taking place.

“Click on the link in this comment and you will be taken to our ticketing department. When you fill out the form you will be given a ticket number (via email) that our team will reference. In approximately X hours you will be contacted directly via phone by a representative.”

Bare minimum, a simple message that tells them where to go and who to talk to.“Call X department at (444)555-5555 and speak to (PERSONS NAME). They will be able to help you.”

Give them a specific task to help them achieve restitution.

Use the Data

Responding is all well and good but it doesn’t solve the problem. It’s what you do from there that actually matters for your business. From the beginning of “bad review” up through its resolution what you’re getting is actionable information for your business.

  1. Who is involved in the complaint?
    1. Is it an issue with training, process, or something else?
  2. What is the complaint about?
    1. Product, delivery, interaction, service?
  3. Where is the complaint taking place?
    1. Is this complaint something that’s happening elsewhere?
  4. Why did this complaint happen?
    1. Where was the ball dropped?
  5. How can this complaint be avoided in the future?
    1. What aspect of the complaint can you control?
    2. Was this complaint a one-off or could it lead to something systemic?

A great way to leverage negative reviews is by tracking the feedback to better understand trends within an experience. At IntelliShop we gather customer sentiment within categories of your experience that allow us to quantify the negatives and the positives. Elements of reviews like “what’s continually being mentioned,” and “which locations may be impacting experience more and why,” allow us to gather a better holistic view to make actionable decisions. Measuring trends will help narrow down the issues at that specific location or identify issues within the company as a whole.

With this data you can glean fantastic customer feedback that you can then use to improve business and move forward better than you have been. The statement, “This is just something that happens in my industry,” is another way to say, “I’m too lazy to try to fix it.”

Have you found that reviews are hard to get? OR worse, when you do get them, they’re either fair to midland or downright awful? Contact us today and find out how to get more reviews, get positive reviews, and turn around those negative reviews into something positive.


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