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Don’t Skimp when Responding to Negative Online Reviews

Don’t Skimp on Responding to Negative Online Reviews, Acknowledge Them

Just a handful of negative reviews, even among thousands of positives, can bring down your average rating. Eighteen one or two-star ratings out of 20,000 positives will leave your business rated at a three and a half or four. While four stars may sound pretty good, it’ll have others wondering what those lower ratings were all about. You, as the business owner, need to tend to those negative reviewers head on and bring them back.

Negative online reviews go live often after a business has already received four or five warnings that weren’t dealt with or acknowledged in the first place. It’s one of the reasons why customer feedback is so important, because it allows you to confront an issue before it goes public.

However, if a customer does post a negative review, it’s important to respond quickly and appropriately. First off, customers want to know they are being heard. You may not be able to fix the problem but you can empathize. Perhaps the incident was a one-time thing like a miscommunication. Maybe a poorly made dinner plate snuck out the gate or even user error. Sometimes whatever inspired the complaint just can’t be solved with a process or replacement. Nevertheless, every customer wants to be heard and their complaint genuinely acknowledged.

Secondly, customers want some sort of resolution, even if you can’t fix the problem. The resolution could be as simple as a sincere apology and reassurance that whatever caused issue won’t happen again. Make sure to put that in the response. If the issue can be fixed, put that in the response as well like a process was improved, an appliance in the hotel room was fixed, or a salty employee was corrected or even terminated.

Finally, ask the customer to come back and provide them a reason to do so. That reason may be a simple reminder of how your business provides a superior service or product. It could also be a discount on their next dinner, a free hair-cut, or an in-person reconciliation by the manager or owner. Essentially, give them incentive to come back and try you again.

If possible, the easiest thing to do is remedy the customer’s situation before they take their complaint to the review board. But sometimes that can’t happen and when you do get that negative online review don’t skimp on the response. Don’t expect it to resolve itself and don’t place blame on the customer. Instead, take action, listen to your customers and provide a resolution.