The Right Way to Respond to Negative Reviews

The Right Way to Respond to Negative Reviews

Austin, Texas –

There’s no question that positive reviews are good for local search rankings, but what can you do when you get a negative review? The important thing to recognize about your response is that it’s just as much for future visitors as it is for the actual reviewer (in fact, probably more so).
While this post focuses on Google+ Local reviews, the advice is actually just as helpful for reviews in Amazon, Yelp, Foursquare, or even comments on your blog. And believe it or not, responding to a negative review properly can actually improve your image in future customers’ eyes.

First off, you shouldn’t necessarily respond to every negative review. Instead, you should only respond to negative reviews if you can:

1. Own the problem
2. Explain why future customers won’t need to deal with the problem

Let’s delve in a bit more, shall we?

1. Owning the Problem

Ego can get in the way of this step. Sometimes the problem isn’t a real one or isn’t really your fault, but future customers want to see that you care about their problems and that they will be heard. Calling out a negative reviewer for lying or passing the blame onto somebody else only makes it look like you aren’t willing to take responsibility for any issues your customers deal with. If you can’t make it clear that you care about the problem and wish the customer didn’t have to deal with it, don’t bother responding at all.

2. Preventing Future Occurrences

It should be clear to any future readers that the problem was noticed, fixed, and won’t happen again. You will want to explain in your response exactly why the problem occurred, and exactly which changes have been made to ensure that it won’t happen again. Explain what the new process is so that new customers will feel safe that this won’t be a problem for them.

3. Compensate the Reviewer

Clearly, this step is optional. You can’t always compensate every single negative reviewer for their problem, and in extreme cases this will only make you look like a pushover to new prospects. However, if the problem deserves compensation, publicly compensating a negative reviewer for their troubles can actually be money well spent as a form of marketing. It further drives home points 1 and 2 and genuinely assures future customers that they can trust you.

Other Considerations

In addition to owning the problem, making it clear that it won’t happen again, and the possibility of compensating the reviewer, here are a few guidelines to live by in your responses:

  •  Address the response to the reviewer, but write it for future visitors, taking into consideration what they will thing when they read the review and your response to it
  •  Don’t be defensive. Consider having your response reviewed by somebody who does not work for your company so that they can give you feedback on tone and what it would make them think of your company.
  •  Do not respond immediately, or your response will likely sound sarcastic or angry. Draft a response, save it, and come back to it with fresh eyes. Your goal should never be to get back at the reviewer.
  •  Don’t “set the record straight.” Future customers don’t care about your side of the story. They will inevitably put themselves in the reviewer’s shoes, assuming they were completely honest, and will see your dispute as an attempt to avoid responsibility.

Customers will trust you if they see that you trust them, even when they are complaining, fix the issue, reassure them, and do everything you can to prevent it from happening again. This shouldn’t be viewed as an expense, but as a form of marketing that can actually convert to sales.

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