Online reviews are important for businesses, particularly smaller ones who lack large advertising budgets. But when you receive a negative review, not only can it be a blow to your ego, but it could threaten your bottom line. Instead of freaking out, here’s how to address negative online reviews in a productive way that will help your brand come out looking good.
Respond promptly. When people leave negative reviews, often they’re just looking to be heard about a poor experience. Responding in a timely fashion gives you an opportunity to set things straight early on. Setting aside a few minutes each day or week to follow up on reviews—both bad and good—means you’ll be able to front foot any negative attention.
Shift the conversation away from a public forum as quickly as possible. We’ve all seen those uncomfortable back and forth exchanges between a person and a business online. When you do get a bad review, respond publicly to the person and offer to contact them directly to discuss further or provide a way for them to get in touch. Doing this allows others to see that your business cares enough to get back to people but keeps the situation into devolving into a public match.
Think before you type. This can be easier said than done, especially depending on how the review was written. But if you find that you are angry or defensive, wait a few hours (or even days) to respond, until you’re able to be polite. Remember that the internet is forever and something you write in a moment of rage can follow you around for years to come.
It’s also important to take a step back and consider the feedback. Has the person brought up a legitimate concern? Have you received feedback in the past about the same issue? Not all negative feedback is mean-spirited. Take this opportunity to see if you can learn from or improve something.
Be clear about what’s being done to remedy the situation. If the poor review addresses something that you recognise is an issue, take the time to thank the person for bringing the issue to your attention and explain what’s being done to rectify things. The proactivity will help alleviate concerns from other customers who may be reading the review in the future.
Encourage customers to reach out directly before posting a negative review. As a small business owner, it can be frustrating when someone’s first point of contact about a problem is a review. Encourage customers to reach out with any issues to give you an opportunity to fix them first before leaving public feedback.
Offer a small discount or code. Were you in the wrong? Consider offering a small discount or voucher as a way to apologise. It doesn’t have to be over the top, but it’s a nice gesture to help retain customers.
Don’t lose too much sleep over it. You can do everything right and someone might still leave you a bad review. Try not to take it personally and keep delivering fantastic service. The other positive reviews will speak for your business more than one bad one will.