How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Bad Reviews - Dislike - Negative ReviewsReviews can play a pivotal role in your digital customer journey.  Whether you’re B2B or B2C, what other people say about you is often more important than what you say about yourself.

Google chooses to display reviews right in the search engine results, are a contributing factor in local search engine optimisation, and can improve your website’s appearance in your appearance in the search results by adding those lovely little stars.

And most importantly, customers check reviews and they are an essential part of the journey leading to a customer making an enquiry or buying online.

From time to time all businesses will get negative reviews. Whether they are spurious and malicious, or legitimate complaints, your business needs a process to handle negative reviews.

9 steps for responding to negative reviews and comments:

  1. Gather all the facts. Take time to cool off.  If appropriate sleep on it before you compose a reply, and at the very least get a second opinion before you hit the Send button
  2. Wait a little while, and see if your friendly customers jump to your defense.  Their independent rebuttal will be much valuable then your own.  If nobody steps forward, perhaps you could even encourage a friendly customer to reply on your behalf
  3. Make sure you have read the comment correctly.  Sometimes  comments can look harsh or abrupt when they’re actually just written in haste
  4. For genuine criticisms, make sure you have a plan of action to address and fix the problem
  5. If you are going to reply, identify yourself properly and make it absolutely clear exactly who you are and how you are related to the business.
  6. If you’re wrong, say you’re sorry, admit the fault, and explain the next steps. Everybody loves a nice guy, even if they’ve made a mistake.
  7. If the review is inaccurate, clarify the situation keeping in mind the purpose is to win the hearts of the readers
  8. Sarcasm doesn’t always convey well in short postings.
  9. And finally, monitor the situation so you’re aware where the bad reviews are flaring up

The temptation might to write a rebuttal review, pretending to be a happy customer.  You’re hoping to that your own positive review will shout louder than the bad reviews.

But it is illegal to write fake reviews about your business, particularly if you are pretending to be someone you’re not.

A negative reviews flowchart

Handling Negtive Reviews

How can negative reviews actually help your business?

It may seem counter-intuitive, but bad reviews can also be a valuable part of your marketing strategy

  • Customers are looking for negative reviews.  They want to know any shortcomings of your product or service. They know that a perfect 5 Star ratings review may not believable, and they want to know the little things that aren’t so good that they can live with
  • Negative reviews are authentic. If a customer takes the time to point out the flaws in your product or service, then it is a good indicator that they have actually been a customer and used the product
  • Learn from the feedback. We need to know what our customers think. And reviews are a great way to get that feedback straight from our customers, and help us all to identify ways to improve our offerings.

Why should you not write fake comments or reviews?

  • writing fake reviews is illegal as well as unethical
  • people will sense that the comments are from you, and will point out your fraudulent review
  • and that will make your company look bad, or more likely, dishonest
  • your fake positive comments are likely to stoke the fire, and cause the furore to rumble on
  • and will probably generate more inbound links,  and percolate the topic higher in the search rankings

In summary… don’t panic about negative reviews.

I think negative reviews can have a positive impact on your business.  They can help to build trust and credibility when handled correctly.

Negative reviews demonstrate that the opinions are expressed by real people, and show that you have an open channel of communication.

It may be difficult, but your business needs a strategy for acting on negative reviews, finding ways to address any legitimate issues, and a process for replying appropriately.

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