How Should I Respond to Negative Online Reviews?

In the digital age, online reviews are increasingly important to businesses, and customers know it. It is impossible to please everybody all the time, and sooner or later a disgruntled customer will post a negative review, or threaten to post one to get something out of you. This can be a stressful situation, but there are some simple guidelines you can use to resolve the situation calmly and peacefully.

  • Follow up with the customer with a phone call ASAP. Sometimes reaching out to the customer directly and hearing their side of the story will be enough to calm them down. Ask them what you can do to make them happy, and if their request is reasonable, grant it to try to resolve the dispute. If their request isn’t reasonable, or they continue to be abusive, simply apologize and move on.
  • Respond to all online reviews, including the negative ones. When someone leaves a review, good or bad, it is important to respond so your customers know you are listening to feedback. Thank customers for a good review and tell them you look forward to seeing them again. For negative online reviews, don’t get defensive: simply apologize and offer to make amends.
  • Don’t argue with the customer. It is very important NOT get into a back-and-forth, he said/she said argument with an angry customer. “The customer is always right,” even if they are wrong, and getting into an online sparring match will only make you look unprofessional and legitimize their complaint against you.
  • Always ask your customers for reviews. As a business owner, it is very important to solicit reviews from your customers as often as possible. Don’t tell them what to say, just ask for honest feedback. The more reviews you have, the better. Bad reviews happen, and the best way to reduce their impact is to have a majority of good reviews to outweigh them.
  • Try to get reviews in multiple places. Everybody should try to get Google and Facebook reviews, but you should also try to get reviews on industry-specific sites, such as Yelp for restaurants, Angie’s List or Home Advisor for home improvement, Wedding Wire or The Knot for event planners, etc. If you diversify your reviews, one bad review in one spot is less likely to have an impact.

Most reasonable customers understand that you can’t make everyone happy every time, and that bad reviews are bound to happen. If you respond to negative online reviews calmly and professionally, you can reduce their impact. Contact JSMT Media to learn more about online reputation management.