How to Respond to Negative Business Reviews – and How Not To

No matter how hard you try, you’re bound to get a negative online business review now and then.

Maybe a staff member had a bad day, or your quality control experienced a momentary hiccup. Or, maybe you did everything right but someone posted a negative review anyway.

No matter what spurred someone to post an unflattering review, all that matters is how you respond.

Responding to negative online reviews

Why Should You Respond to Negative Reviews?

Let’s start with the fact that you should respond to every online business review you get, good or bad.

A recent study conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that, when businesses responded to their reviews, the not only got more reviews (12 percent more) but their ratings increased, on average, by 0.12 stars.

Google also wants you to read and respond to reviews. In fact, its search engine ranking algorithms consider the number of reviews and percentage of reviews (both positive and negative) that you have received and responded to.

Responding to negative reviews gives you an opportunity to shape the online narrative about your business. You have the opportunity to turn a bad situation around, to recover a lost customer and to demonstrate to future prospects that you really care about your customers and their satisfaction.

How to Respond to Negative Online Business Reviews

Some advisors recommend that, when you respond to a less-than-favorable comment, you should avoid acknowledging fault or apologizing. However, industry experts do not all agree on this point. In fact, some experts specifically advise that you do apologize in your response.

The marketing experts at HubSpot recommend these four steps for responding to an unhappy customer:

  1. Listen
  2. Apologize
  3. Solve
  4. Thank

Be sure to customize your response to the situation. Look into the problem to the fullest extent possible before responding, to be sure you have all the facts. If the review brought up any strong emotions, wait a day until you calm down before responding. Whatever you promise the unhappy customer you’ll do, make good on your word.

Finally, do whatever you can to address and resolve the underlying problem within your organization.

What to Avoid When Responding to a Negative Review

Don’t respond to negativity with negativity. When you respond to a negative review, consider your words carefully. Adopting a negative tone will not provide you any benefit.

Don’t stop with just an apology. Either report to the reviewer what steps you’ve already taken or explain what steps you will take in response to their comments.

Don’t launch into a debate or argument in a public forum. Taking the discussion offline will ensure the privacy of both your company and your customer.

Don’t forget to follow up. Once you’ve taken action to resolve the problem, follow up to ensure you’ve done what the customer wanted.

Don’t make excuses. Own up to the problem, even if it’s never happened before.

Did you know there’s a better way to handle negative business reviews? Accrue Reviews offers an innovative approach to getting more positive reviews. But our program also gives you the opportunity to make your customer happy before they post a negative review. Our program is not only effective but it’s simple and affordable too.

For a free trial of our online business review program, contact Accrue Reviews today.