In our previous blog, we helped you implement new strategies to organically grow a base of positive online reviews for your business. But what happens when you receive a negative online review? It might feel like the end of the world, especially when you’re a small business that hasn’t built up a reputation yet. 

Although a negative review can pull down your star rating and give potential customers a reason to doubt you in the short-term, you can turn things around for the long-term with some powerful online reputation management strategies. In this month’s blog, we’re building up your customer service armory with some proven tactics for responding to negative online reviews.

Step 1: Take Negative Reviews Seriously

There is a wide range of emotions that business owners can experience when they find negative online reviews of their business. It’s natural to feel angry, upset, offended, and even confused. Most likely, you don’t understand what went wrong and did not realize there was a reason a customer would feel compelled to leave a negative review.

Unfortunately, not all customers are upfront about their negative experiences until they go online to write that review. In every case, you should always assess if the customer was right to leave that review. Is there an issue with a specific employee, a process that could be improved, or a product that isn’t fully satisfying customers? 

Remember that negative reviews, though sometimes hurtful, can be good indicators of what you need to improve about your business. If it is just a harsh comment with little constructive feedback, don’t just dismiss the review. You should still take the comment seriously as you continue to the next step.

Step 2: Respond Effectively to Negative Reviews

Whether the review is valid or is only the result of a misunderstanding, it is always important to take action. Remember that your response is public and matters to everyone else that searches for your business online. There are certain guidelines you should always follow when responding to a negative review:

  • Respond as soon as possible
  • Be honest, appropriate, and professional
  • Explain how you are addressing the issue
  • Never use a form response

In the case of a customer raising a legitimate concern, make sure to take action to fix the problem. When responding to the review, you should explain what actions you are taking to resolve the issue so that others can see your quick and honest response and intent to resolve the issue.

If you are completely sure that the customer is misrepresenting your business, you should still address their concern following the above guidelines. Always offer an apology for their poor experience and stay professional. If you lose a sense of professionalism in your response, you might lose more customers.

Step 3: Bring Your Response Offline ASAP

It is usually in the best interest of the business to offer the customer a way to take the discussion offline as soon as possible. Make sure to leave a professional and honest response to the comment on the platform where the review was left, so that others can see you responded. Then ask the customer to speak privately. 

Bringing the negative commenter to a private space will prevent further negative comments about your business from becoming public and will signal to the customer that you care about their experience. Offer a private forum such as email or direct messaging.

In your private conversation, you can open up the discussion to learn more about the negative experience and even offer a way to compensate the individual, if appropriate. Express gratitude that the customer brought the negative experience to your attention. If you must hand the customer complaint off to another team or department, you can even follow up later on with the customer to check that their issue has been resolved.

Keep Online Review Responses Timely and Organized

Having great online reviews doesn’t mean all of them are 5-star reviews. Customers should feel that their reviews are being left in a safe place where their comments are heard and appreciated. When customers see that you respond thoughtfully and resolve issues, they’ll be more likely to redact harsh reviews or leave more positive ones in the future.

Ultimately, the key to handling negative reviews is transparency and swift, real-time communication.Telio’s online reputation management software will help you respond quickly to negative reviews by alerting you immediately. The software also helps to compile your good reviews into one gallery to be displayed on your business’s website.

There’s a smarter way to manage your online reputation! Contact Telio today through our website or call (267) 544-7244 to learn more.