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How Do I Respond to a Negative Online Review of My Business?

How to Reply to Negative Reviews

Online reviews and ratings heavily influence consumers’ purchase decisions. At once the modern take on traditional word of mouth and the new standard for customer feedback, reviews can make or break a business”. —

As social media has evolved in the past decade, so has the consumer-driven power to positively or negatively affect your business. Today’s consumers are heavily influenced by authentic feedback and crowd-sourced reviews published on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook, OpenTable and many more. A recent study released by the eCommerce Foundation indicates that 88 percent of consumers conduct online research before making a purchase either online or in-store.

The idea that someone outside your business can impact your sales is a scary notion for a business owner. We hear questions like

“What if someone holding an unfair grudge against our company leaves a bad review just to spite us?”

“What if the competition poses as a customer and leaves a negative review?”

“What if we make an honest mistake and the customer happens to be in a bad mood that day?”

While this could and does happen to some degree, we believe that crowd-sourced reviews can be a win for the business and a win for the consumer. The vast majority of online consumer reviews are authentic and constructive. It may sound counter-intuitive, but there can be a bright side in getting a bad review. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate that you listen to your customers and makes every reasonable effort to satisfy them.

Consumers can be very forgiving when they see a bad review, especially if there is a response and it appears to be an isolated incident. You will not always win back the customer based on your response to a Facebook or Yelp review, but it will affect how others see you.

Some businesses we have worked have asked us to ignore the negative review and not respond. This may be appropriate in rare cases, but as a rule of thumb, we say ALWAYS RESPOND. Even if the review is completely bogus and unfair, always take the opportunity to show that your business is willing to listen.

Here’s an example of a response posted by one of our clients responding to a negative review. Bear in mind this client has fiercely loyal customers and usually receives 4-5 star reviews.

We appreciate you taking the time to reach out to us regarding (whatever the issue is). We regret that we were unable to resolve your concerns to your satisfaction. Unfortunately, even the highest quality (insert products) are susceptible to normal wear and tear. We stand by the quality of our (whatever product) and make every reasonable effort to exceed the expectations of our customers and address any concerns they may have about their purchase.We understand that our brand isn’t for everyone, however, we think you will find that our service and quality will be comparable if not better than other brands of (whatever product). If you would like to contact us again, we’d be happy to assist you by (fill in the blank) and offer you the support that you need to enjoy your (whatever the product is).

Here’s another example posted by a client accustomed to 4 and 5-star reviews.

We are so sorry to hear about the issue you have had with our (fill in the blank)! We take great care to ensure only the best (fill in the blank) are used but sometimes tiny differences in the product’s path from our (fill in the blank) to yours can result in big differences by the time it gets to you. Our goal is to provide you with a product that exceeds your expectations in every way. We don’t want this to be a recurring problem, so if you could provide us with a photograph of the (fill in the blank), we’ll research the problem to try and make sure it doesn’t keep happening. Also, we’d like to reimburse you for any (fill in the blank) you may have purchased. If you send us your mailing address, we’ll get this taken care of for you. We will try to do better next time. Thanks again for your patience and honesty!

For even more examples, read 8 Amazing Examples of Business Owners Responding to Reviews

Remember, the goal of social media is all about listening and engaging with your existing consumers as you create a sales funnel that eventually converts potential consumers into customers. Our clients embrace both good and bad reviews and in some cases have even improved their business as a result.  We believe that you can almost always turn a negative into a positive. Contact us for more information on how we can help your business monitor what’s being said and how to respond.

photo credit: wuestenigel Woman working at a cafe, hand on keyboard ,close up via photopin (license)

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