How to Respond to Negative Reviews

We’ve all seen them – the infamous negative online business review. You know, blocks of text broken up by sections where the caps lock button was definitely on and liberal usage of exclamation points. In the age of screenshots, a response to an online review by business owners can make or break a business in mere seconds. And while immediately firing off a defensive retort to a customer’s concern about your business might seem the best plan, taking a timeout instead is highly recommended instead.

Responding to Negative Reviews

If you pride yourself and your business on providing the best customer service and experience, even the most gentle criticism may seem undue. But criticism is a great chance to grow as an owner and a business. Customers and others who visit your business may see or find gaps that you haven’t been able to.

When it comes time to respond to a negative review online, be timely in your response and reply to every review. Replying within two weeks is very acceptable, but the quicker, the better. Canned replies, such as ‘thank you for your feedback, I will review your comments with my staff to improve our customer experience’ are always your best bet. Getting personal with a customer in an online review is always a surefire way to live in screenshot infamy.

Was the Problem the Work or the Service?

This is the first step in any quest to right a wrong – pinpointing where the issue lies. Ask a customer at the checkout, or even before they reach that point if there were any issues or concern with the work or service they received. Knowing what needs improvement or a complete overhaul will expedite the customer service process in the future and hopefully avoid repeating the issue.

Interview Your Staff Without Blame

When you hire employees for your business, they become the face of your business and the first line of customer interaction and service. When a customer service concern arises, the sooner you can speak with your employees, the sooner you can find a solution. However, interviewing your employees shouldn’t become a witch hunt, but instead a fact-finding mission to ultimately become a better business.

Remember that blaming involves emotion and perpetuates more emotion once it’s been placed. A way to approach the interviewing is to think of it as placing responsibility rather than blame. Even the best employee at your business isn’t infallible. Speak to employees individually rather than as a large group, even if they worked together on the shift in question.

Process and Procedures Checkup?

If you have a company policy that addresses the management of your online presence, review it periodically, long before the first negative review is posted. Consider empowering your employees to satisfy customers before they leave the store, whether by a refund, exchange, or other response that wouldn’t require management override. Having a negative review should be used as a pause to improve rather than channeled internally and stewed upon.

How to Respond to the Review and Follow up with Your Customer

The time has come to response to a negative review someone left on an online platform. Start by remaining calm, regardless of how inflammatory the review may be. Matching fire with fire never ends well for anyone involved. Any knee-jerk reaction can permanently damage a business with an otherwise stellar reputation on and offline.

Draft a response or two and enlist another set of neutral eyes to review it before replying to the customer, either in the public forum or in a private message. Remember, screenshots live forever. However, it is possible to defend your business without sounding like you’re on the offensive. Acknowledge the customer’s specific concerns, even if unfounded, and let them know you will look into the issue.

Elevare Provides Social Media Management

Though we’re all chronologically adults at Elevare, once in awhile we’ll flash back to our time as kids and hear our mothers say, “Be nice!” Those two words ring true through how we provide social media management for our clients and will continue on with your business. While you might get a quick chuckle out of an exchange between a disgruntled customer and business owner online, deep down you know that business is taking a hit. Elevare applies the golden rule to our approach to social media management every day, knowing our mothers are proud for us listening that one time.


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