Getting negative comments can feel like an attack on your small business. After all, you’ve put countless hours and endless energy into your business, so when someone criticizes your hard work in a public forum, it’s only natural to feel upset.
There’s no escaping online ratings and reviews in today’s consumer world. Whether we’re picking a doctor or our next meal, we’ve come to not only trust but rely on reviews. For better or worse, they help our decision-making process. Positive online reviews do your marketing for you. They’re a testament to your quality of work and customer service. Negative reviews do just the opposite. They scare off potential and existing customers and may even point them to a competitor.
Companies large and small can leverage negative feedback for positive results. Feedback, negative or positive, is a gift. A gift that too few businesses acknowledge.
Positive feedback means free marketing and a nice pat on the back. Negative feedback is a little less obvious of a gift. It provides a map to greater retention, revenue and recognition.
Why Should Your Respond to Negative Reviews or Feedback?
Customers expect you to respond to their reviews, whether that review is positive or negative.
• 86% of consumers who complain expect a response within 3 days.
• Businesses that don’t respond to reviews earn 9% less revenue than average.
• Businesses that respond at least 25% of the time earn 35% more revenue.
• A 30% response rate is the minimum needed to surpass your competitors.
• When businesses increased their reply rate on Google reviews, they saw an 80% conversion rate increase over their local competitors.
Responding to reviews is a chance for you to boost your business’ conversion rates, revenues, and customer goodwill. Responding to customers when they’re unhappy with your company, product, or service shows prospective customers how they’ll be treated if they decide to work with your business.
How to Respond to Negative Reviews
1. Personalize the response with the reviewer’s name when possible. Some review sites require a name, and others allow pseudonyms. This is an indicator. It shows the reviewer (and lurkers) that you’re speaking to them directly. You’re not copying and pasting a script or posting a generic reply.
2. Thank the reviewer for taking the time to leave the review. Why thank them for a negative review? It establishes psychological safety with reviewers and lurkers; it communicates gratitude for their willingness to share valuable information.
3. Acknowledge their problem. It doesn’t matter whether you agree with their perspective or not. They want you to address the reason that they’re writing the review. This is part of showing that you understand. When used appropriately, this acknowledgment places both of you on the same side, attacking the problem together.
4. Apologize and show empathy. Apologize to them, validate their feelings. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to give them what they’re asking for. At the very least, show them that you understand and that you’re sorry. Customers are looking for you to apologize, to take ownership of the perceived mistake.
5. Try to provide a solution when possible. Make things right. This might mean taking responsibility for a misunderstanding or compensating them if they were wronged. It’s important to present customers with solutions to their problems, even if the problem is their fault.
7. Take the conversation to a non-public channel. Provide the reviewer with a personal or support email and ensure that they’re able to get the help that they need. Generally speaking, this is a good idea. Some customers believe businesses are eager to take the conversation offline to avoid shame or bad press. To a certain extent, they’re correct.
We have put together some response template
that might help you respond to negative reviews.