No business likes getting a negative online review. But if enough people go to your store (yay!), then you’ll inevitably see a less-than-charming response pop-up on a site like Google Maps, Yelp, or Facebook (boo!).
The way that you respond to bad reviews can push you deeper into that negative black hole. On the flipside, it can open up a fantastic opportunity to show genuine empathy and care about that customer experience — and even attract more people into your stores.
First, let’s dive into why every negative review needs attention and response. Then we’ll outline the eight steps you should follow if you want to retain that customer and show potential customers that their experiences truly matter.
Yes. Customer Reviews Really Matter.
Don’t believe that responding to every online review can drastically affect your business? These fast might change your mind:
- 9 out of 10 shoppers say they’ve read reviews before making a purchase
- 79% of shoppers say that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- 3 out of 4 consumers trust a company more if it has positive reviews
- 65% of shoppers stopped going to a business if a review was ignored
This means that your company’s overall reputation, good or bad, is not only affected by reviews — so is your bottom line!
Now for some good news! With a proactive approach to your reputation management strategy, you quickly alleviate issues before they escalate or drive customers away. Even better? About 30% of customers go back to improve the initial online ranking or rating after a company replies to a review.
This free feedback, straight from the voice of your customers, also offers invaluable insights on identifying common pain points and blind spots you may have otherwise missed. Use these data points to adjust your CX strategy, tweak your products or services, and motivate your team to consistently work on building an even better brand.
The Impact of a Negative Review
Bad reviews can feel like a punch in the gut. No professional wants their beloved brand’s name attached to anything negative, especially on a public online platform. However, it is now a very real fact of living and working in today’s connected world.
A pattern of bad reviews can cause:
- Loss of Potential Customers: Organizations can lose the loyalty of the customer who wrote the review, or a potential buyer who read it online
- Lower Search Ranking Position: Review and reputation scores can negatively impact search rank, causing your online listings to fall farther down the SERPs.
- Fewer Repeat Customers: As word travels online and off about your brand’s poor customer experience (CX), expect retention rates to suffer.
Of course, the goal is to avoid receiving negative reviews in the first place. Often, all that takes is stellar customer service, agile problem solving, and open communication while the disgruntled customer is still in-store.
But if that doesn’t work and negative feedback ends up online for the world to see, follow these 8 steps whenever your company receives a negative review online:
The 8 Steps for Responding Right to a Bad Online Review
1. Respond Fast & Professionally
Always respond to negative reviews as quickly as possible. If it’s an easily solvable issue, you can often remedy the issue and have the writer update or delete their review before many potential customers see the bad review in the first place. It also shows the review writer that their issue truly matters to the company.
Can you imagine the outrage if an in-store manager flat-out ignored a live customer complaint? Or said they’d reply whenever they got around to it? Online complaints shouldn’t be any different.
2. Be Sincere, Thankful and Professional
When responding to reviews, be genuine and professional in tone. This applies even if your overall brand voice typically feels more fun, light, or casual. No matter the organization, everyone wants to know that their grievances are taken seriously, and outside viewers want to see the same when considering where to spend their hard-earned money.
Always offer a sincere thank you. Whatever the issue, this paying customer took time out of their day to connect with your brand. They’re also providing valuable insights on how you can make your business even better. Then express a sincere, appropriate apology. By taking accountability up-front, people will see that your brand truly values every customer interaction, even if it’s less than satisfactory.
3. Show That You’re Listening
Once a customer has expressed their less-than-stellar views, take time to genuinely hear and process why they’re dissatisfied. In your reply, be sure to write in a way that shows that you heard their pain points and are taking action to help turn the situation around. If necessary, provide an explanation.
If the customer’s complaint looks to be a misunderstanding, cautiously reply in a way that doesn’t appear defensive. Instead, take a moment to collect your thoughts, carefully explain the situation, clarify the reasoning, and offer a solution.
4. Always Take the High Road
We all make mistakes from time to time. There may be a very good reason for a customer to give a bad review. Or, maybe you completely disagree. Either way, take a deep breath and respond positively and empathetically.
Never get into an online argument or try to change their mind. Instead, focus on what you can do to improve the customer experience and rectify the problem. Taking the high road can be tough, especially if it’s a rough review. But it’s always the right path. It also looks good to prospective buyers reading your reviews. Even if you’re technically in the right, few people would prefer a brand that engages in online battles with its own customers.
5. Take It Offline
In many cases, the customer who posted the negative review will be open to talking with you about the situation more in-depth offline. This can be the best way to handle especially thorny complaints or issues that might need context or deeper discussion. Rather than continue to allow them to air their grievances publically, include your email and/or phone number in your review response and ask them to reach out personally.
Talking offline builds human-to-human connection rather than the anonymous nature of an online forum which benefits both sides of the situation. It’s also a better way to get to the root problem, offer authentic apologies, and show that you’re taking the time and care to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
6. Make it Right
Whatever the issue is, it’s important to make things right. If the company has a genuine customer service issue that has resulted in a complaint, then make sure you respond appropriately and promptly.
If the comment relates to the quality of your product or service, then reach out directly to them and explain the measures the organization is taking to fix the problem and make it better. Often, multiple teams within the organization will be involved in the resolution, especially if the issue gets escalated.
7. Track and Record Complaints
Was the bad review a one-time fluke, or an ongoing pattern that needs quick action to solve? You’ll never know if you don’t diligently track and follow every complaint that comes up. A great reputation management and analytics platform can simplify this essential task, no matter how many locations your brand has.
With this valuable information, you’ll be able to learn from these mistakes and have the data-backed insights to build better customer experiences in the future. It also provides your company with a written record of the complaint in case the issue escalates.
8. Adjust Your Strategy for CX and More
Are you noticing a pattern throughout your negative reviews? Don’t ignore them. Even with great intentions, something could be off in your current customer experience strategy, or even your product and services. If that’s the case, it’s vital to take the necessary steps to pinpoint those issues (is it location-specific or company-wide), find a way to fix them, and start implementing a better way to make your customers happy, coming back, and ready to give fantastic 5-star reviews!
Know exactly when a negative review comes in at any location and reply in seconds! With Chatmeter’s Reputation Management solution, get all the tools and support to create amazing, revenue-growing customer experiences online and off.