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Responding to Bad Reviews

by Ashlie Hannah
Responding to Bad Reviews

Nobody’s perfect. So no matter how much your business strives to provide great customer service, eventually you’ll receive a negative review.

You’ve poured endless hours into building your small business, so a negative review can feel like a personal attack. Don’t panic: These tips will help you keep your cool and respond in a way that not only repairs that reviewer’s estimation of your brand, but impresses future customers.

  1. Silence is not an option. If you don’t respond publicly to negative reviews, customers infer you don’t care about making it right. Plus, if a dissatisfied customer’s anger isn’t doused, they are likely to continue to fan the flames in the form of bad word-of-mouth online and off. Simply deleting or hiding bad reviews is a major no-no—people will notice if you silence everyone who doesn’t agree with you, and it sends the message you don’t care about customer experience.
  2. Respond quickly and directly. In the digital world, people expect a quick response, generally within 24 hours. The longer you wait, the more opportunity you give the negative reviewer to grow more agitated. If other staff members are involved in the negative review, gather their recollection of the facts calmly. Next, if it’s possible to contact the reviewer directly, do so. Begin with a simple apology, then gather their recollection of the facts calmly in a way that makes them feel heard and valued. Proceed with an actionable resolution.
  3. Don’t go on the defensive. It can be tempting to poke holes in the reviewer’s case. Resist this urge, as it will only cause a long and counterproductive back-and-forth. Unless you have a good reason to believe the review is fraudulent (for example, a troll or competitor trying to sabotage your business—which is much less likely than a valid negative review), take the customer at their word and do what you can to make it right. Make a genuine apology, make them feel heard and, whenever possible, take action to win back their business. Empathy and honesty go a long way.
  4. Apologize publicly. “Provide transparent customer service within the review thread,” said Spencer X. Smith, founder of Spencer X. Smith Consulting. “Do right by the customer in a public setting, so other customers and prospects can see how you handle a displeased person.” This is a major opportunity to show future customers that there’s low risk involved if they spend their time and money with you, because even a rare bad experience will be resolved with care.

Next Steps:
This Manta article contains even more tips on responding to negative reviews. Are you suddenly faced with a spate of negative reviews? Do multiple reviews mention their disappointment in the same aspect of your business (for example, broken A/C in a hotel room, slow dinner service in a restaurant, or bad customer service from a particular employee?) This could point to a larger problem. Look for common themes in negative reviews and make plans to remedy those problems. Similarly, if your business has changed management or ownership since the bad reviews were posted, mention this in your responses and invite customers to try your business again.

Deirdre, Manta Marketing Pro
Manta Marketing Pro

Expert Advice from your Small Business Marketing Pro:
If you haven’t already, set up alerts so you receive a notification whenever a new review is posted. Check your social media accounts via HootSuite or search for your business on Google for recent reviews. Need extra help? Contact your Small Business Marketing Pro for personal advice.
—Deirdre, Manta Marketing Pro

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