How to Handle a Negative Review

Many businesses have a hesitation with creating an online profile for the one fear of getting a negative review or snarky comment from a disgruntled customer or former employee. It’s not worth missing out on crucial marketing avenues for the fear of “what it”. The truth is not everyone is going to love you and that’s ok! If you take pride in the product or service you offer, you will have more positive reviews sharing their appreciation for your business versus negative. It’s rare that people leave negative reviews “just because”. There is typically a reason behind the review that has the backing support of their experience and they are disappointed at the fact that they may not use your product or service again because of it. They feel the need to express their concern in hopes of getting a positive action from the other end to encourage their repeat business. “Consumers expect brands to respond to reviews—and are disappointed. 53 percent of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week. But 63 percent say that a business has never responded to their review.”

That being said, it’s still devasting when we see that dreaded 1-star review that could potentially affect your overall rating. The key is to react accordingly to help turn the negative into a positive. Let’s look at how to handle a negative review (if it happens).

  1. Our first reaction is to immediately remove it. We try to find a way to delete it all together but that’s not always an option. If a review is a complete and honest lie formed from someones unreasonable opinion of your business, a competitor out to get you, or a former employee who’s angry about a situation they brought on themselves, you do have the option to dispute or request to remove the review. You are at the hands of the webmaster of that platform, it’s up to the review team to research the user behind the review and the review content to determine if it is deemed appropriate or not. If they feel it is not viable, they will grant permission to remove it. If they feel it is a legitimate review, they will leave it. Platforms like Facebook, Yelp, and Google try to form viable accounts that searchers can trust as true resources for their needs. As consumers, we rely heavily on reviews from other consumers to determine if we want to move forward with product or service. If we gave businesses the option to delete every review they didn’t like, we would only hear what they wanted us to hear. We need these reviews to get the honest opinions and experiences from others so we can form our own. Seeing a negative review doesn’t immediately result in someone moving on to the next. They will continue to read the rest of the reviews, look for responses to the negative one and form their own decision based on the information in front of them.
  2. If the negative review is here to stay, you need to respond in a professional manner to show you truly care about the experience they had and that you want to rectify it to prove you offer a quality product or service. Hear what they are saying and address each point. The most important thing to note is to try and keep “emotions” out of it. We totally understand the anger and hurt that you can feel when reading the negative comments someone is saying about your businesses. However, if we let our emotions get the best of us, it may result in a response that is unprofessional and not supportive of the positive image you are trying to portray. If it’s a situation that you are aware of and can recall the details then address how they viewed it and compare it to how it actually happened while being supportive of their feelings. Don’t play the “blame game” we must stay neutral in the fact that neither party is right or wrong but we do want to support our actions and the truth behind it. If, for some reason, your business or employees actions were in the wrong, own up to it and let them know you are doing everything in your power to ensure it will not happen again. Closing out your response stay true to your business and the quality behind it and be honest in the apology level you want to give. If the action is in need of a discount or offers to help show your sincere apology then provide them an option to reach out to you personally to follow through with the offer.
  3. Avoid the back and forth. It doesn’t happen often if handled right however, there are some cases… If someone is “fired-up” and “at the moment”, they may be inclined to not hear you out and continue to rant about what they felt they experienced. If this is the case we can respond for the second time with a simple apology that they feel this way and repeat the fact that you heard what they said and you want to clarify that you take pride in your product or service and you are sorry they feel this way. But, we can’t play into their he said she said act. Take the higher road, be the bigger man….keep your response professional and straight to the point so other viewers can see that you have justly responded and offered your apologies and they just won’t hear it. Don’t continue to respond if they continue to haunt you. Viewers will see that you are trying to back your business and you care about your customer service and they will form a negative opinion about the person leaving the negative review and not letting it rest.
  4. Don’t forget to respond to all reviews, good and bad. By responding to every day (positive) reviews you get, that also backs the integrity of your business. This shows that you care about any and all feedback you get, you appreciate the kind words people have to say. They took time out of their day to let others know how happy they are with what you provided and any business needs to be grateful for that. Don’t just focus on the bad reviews. It will portray a negative image that you didn’t appreciate the positive and can only focus on the negative. “There are more and more positive reviews. Reviews are increasingly shifting from being a place where consumers air their grievances to being a place to recommend businesses after a positive experience.”

We live in a digital world.

We have to rely on trustworthy reviews and information that is put in front of us in the search engines. As a whole, consumers have learned to weed through the good and the bad to determine a legitimate decision on moving forward. We can’t avoid necessary and beneficial marketing tactics for the fear of the negative that could or could not happen. We can only take a positive and professional approach to defend our business and trust that others will see that.

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