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5 Tips On Handling Negative Online Reviews

Jen Jordan brings a wealth of life and leadership experiences to her writing. After 10 years creating a variety of content for a nonprofit, Jen decided to establish her own writing business. She specializes in creating high quality blog and website content for small businesses. When she's not writing, Jen is a competitive triathlete with a goal of completing a triathlon in all 50 states.
No business owner enjoys getting negative reviews. How you respond to a negative review can have a big impact on your business. Here are some tips for handling negative reviews. 5 Tips On Handling Negative Online Reviews

Online reviews are an essential part of business in the digital age. Not only do they influence potential customers as they learn about your products or services, positive reviews and customer-business interactions improve organic visibility on Google.

Responding to positive reviews isn’t very difficult. But, all small business owners will encounter negative reviews at one point or another. It’s the negative feedback that can be most difficult to navigate. How you handle negative reviews can have a big impact on your business going forward. Remember, all your responses are visible to everyone online. That’s why it’s critical to respond to all kinds of reviews and especially the critical ones in a professional manner.

The goal of responding to a negative online review is to show other readers that you’re an engaged and attentive business owner who listens to your customers. If you get your unhappy customer to remove or change their review, that’s just icing on the cake.

1. Respond in a timely manner.

If someone takes the time to leave a thoughtful negative review, they expect a timely response. It also helps minimize damage and proves your attention to customer satisfaction.

2. Not every negative review warrants a response.

While not every review warrants a response, disregarding negative reviews is rarely a good idea. This suggests that you aren’t concerned about your customer satisfaction or reputation.

Negative reviews that present facts and include minor complaints can usually be ignored. If you do feel the need to respond to these complaints, keep your response brief and thank them for their feedback.

Sometimes a customer seems to go out of their way to make your day difficult. Some platforms (like Google) will allow you to remove fake, off-topic, defamatory, or personally attacking reviews.

If the review is truthful and includes genuine concerns, own your mistakes, and commit to changing. If possible, take action to make those changes and reach back out later to assure the customer that you kept your word.

3. Answer thoughtfully and without being defensive.

It’s critical to avoid getting into a word war with a dissatisfied customer, especially when others can follow along. You probably won’t win, and you risk alienating more potential customers. Instead, remain calm and polite, no matter how the customer responds.

Negative feedback can offer a valuable insight into the not-so-smooth aspects of your business or pain points your customers experience. Appreciate your customer’s effort to communicate that and help you improve your business.

Your customers don’t expect you to be perfect. An honest, transparent response to a negative review goes a long way to build trust. Most negative reviewers prefer an honest response and assurance that their complaint is received in a fair and heartfelt manner.

4. Deal with complex customer complaints privately.

When a complaint involves specific transactions or complex concerns, it’s best to resolve the complaint privately. Honor your customer’s privacy by connecting with them directly. If you don’t have their contact information, invite them to reach out to you via email or phone.

5. If possible, make it right.

Often, taking responsibility for a customer’s experience means making things right to the best of your ability. Offer a refund where appropriate or consider offering a free service or product to make up for the last one that led to the negative review.

If possible, get to the root cause of their dissatisfaction and work to resolve the issue. This can sometimes turn it into a positive customer service testimonial!

No small business enjoys getting negative reviews. Don’t let a few critical or unreasonable reviews stress you. Rather, look for opportunities to learn and grow from those insightful negative reviews.


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