How to Properly Respond to Negative Online Reviews of Your Business

Take a look at online reviews of your business. Both positive and negative reviews shared online reveal the type of customer experience you provide.

Experiences can differ between customers as they’re personalized, but ultimately you’d expect consistent effectiveness to generate more positive reviews. If you notice negative reviews become the norm, it’s time to take action and respond. And, in truth, even the most well-respected brands in every industry still deal with negative reviews on a regular basis.

Prevent negative reviews as much as possible, and then concentrate on responding to the negative reviews of your business that do arise. Service recovery exists for a reason, after all. While you may have missed the mark the first time around, an opportunity remains for your brand to win back customers and build brand loyalty.

86% of consumers hesitate to do business with a company having negative reviews, according to Invesp — so it’s critical to mitigate the impact of negative reviews by responding to them.

5 Ways to Handle Negative Reviews

Turn that frown upside down for an unhappy customer and they’ll return the favor with a positive review for the entire world to see. More people will be inclined to choose your brand when comparing it against others in the same space after noticing that you aim to delight customers, even if things didn’t start off on the right foot.

Here’s how to properly respond to negative online reviews that appear on Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and other review sites.

#1. Always Take the High Road

Your business is your baby. And if anyone called your baby ugly your knee-jerk reaction would be to respond with pure vitriol. Which is fair! But before you do, as a professional remember that what goes online stays online forever.

Responding positively to negative reviews not only shows the customer a more favorable side of you than the one that spurred the negative review, but — depending on the forum — it can also show everyone else who comes across the response that you’re poised and care about customer concerns.

Customers will sometimes take language or level of rationality to the extreme, and in those cases it may be best to not respond at all. Use your judgment to determine which reviews could be salvaged with some kindness and the reviews that might deserve to go unaddressed for the sake of civility.

Keep calm and carry on if you think a customer’s negative review is too hot to handle.

#2. Be Transparent

Don’t lie to your customers. That shouldn’t need to be said, but let this serve as a reminder because customers always discover what the truth is. And, frankly, they deserve the truth.

With that said, do your best to treat customers with transparency when responding to their negative reviews. Offer a full, honest explanation and, if appropriate, a remedy.

#3. Take the Issue Offline

While your initial response to a negative review can be done in a public forum, it often makes sense to pivot to a private interaction. It’s particularly helpful in matters where sensitive or personal information needs to be discussed.

In addition, taking the issue offline also helps avoid the potential for the customer to engage in a negative back-and-forth with you. The last thing you want is for other people — who may be existing or potential customers — to get a front-row seat to an intense exchange.

Corresponding directly with customers in the forum where they’ve raised negative comments in public and then bringing that conversation into a private channel is a best practice.

If you do address the issue through another channel like text messaging, remember to leave a brief comment in the public forum where the negative review was posted to show others the issue was dealt with and resolved.

#4. Learn from Every Review

Once a customer leaves a negative review, they’ve made up their mind. But only for that moment. Service recovery unlocks a second chance for you to make things right and retain a customer. And if service recovery falls short and the customer walks away, use the negative review and ensuing efforts as assets to learn from.

Resolving negative reviews is an important goal, but you should also have processes in place to ensure that your organization learns from any missteps and corrects course going forward. Surface negative reviews during company or team meetings, and ask employees for their thoughts on what happened and how similar events can be avoided in the future.

Aside from being a method of prevention, this kind of internal transparency will help you build a customer-centric mindset among employees.

#5. Have Methods in Place to Prevent Negative Reviews

You know this already: preventing all negative reviews from happening is impossible. But by providing exemplary customer experience, you’ll definitely minimize their frequency.

One common reason for negative reviews is poor communication — keeping customers waiting, ignoring requests, or simply providing inadequate information. So just opening the lines of communication and being a complete, engaging resource for customers will do a lot to bolster satisfaction.

In the Customer Service Trends for 2022 Report from Stella Connect by Medallia, 60% of consumers said they will stop buying from a brand after a poor service interaction. That’s proof of just how important it is to be proactive and prevent negative reviews.

Prepare to Address & Resolve Negative Reviews

Handling a large influx of online reviews doesn’t need to feel overwhelming, whether the reviews are glowing, scathing, or somewhere in-between. And reading a negative review can be like opening a gift box filled with air, but the proper handling of and response to negative reviews yield gifts that keep on giving.

Medallia Zingle is a business text messaging solution that enables your brand and its customers to talk to each other in a two-way, real-time conversation. Our platforms developers a deeper relationship with customers, and it allows you to respond to negative reviews in the moment. As a result, key metrics such as Net Promoter Score and customer satisfaction (CSAT) increase.

Get a free trial to discover why over 2,000 companies choose Medallia Zingle to address and resolve negative reviews as part of their customer experience strategies.

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