How to Respond to Negative Online Reviews

A good reputation is vital to the success of any business, especially a local service-based company. It’s a fact that most customers research businesses online before they choose where to buy. Just one negative review on an online review site can do some major damage to your reputation. In some cases, these bad online reviews can end up in search results, and cause potential customers to spend their money elsewhere.

Well, before we talk about how to handle negative online reviews, here are 3 helpful things to do now before receiving any bad reviews.

  1. Claim your business listings. Online review sites, such as Yelp, Google, etc. often automatically create business listings from the information they find about you online. If these listings are not claimed and correct, not only could there be incorrect information about you, but a competitor could also try to claim and therefore control that listing. If you do not have a trusted marketing partner working with you, then please give us a call – we can help. Before you can start actively responding to negative online reviews, you’ll have to claim the online directory or review site that the complaint was posted on. We utilize industry-leading tools to scan the web for listings about your company and make sure they are correct, claimed, and under your control.
  2. Monitor the conversation. In order to take action against negative online reviews, you have to be aware of any that exist. It’s important to monitor your social media pages and respond to concerns there. But you should also check out major consumer review sites like Yelp to see what people are saying about your small business. The simplest way to do this is to set up a Google Alert for your business name and make use of other tracking tools.
  3. Actively seek out positive reviews. Be proactive in asking clients for reviews, especially if you know that they would leave an excellent one. Also, make it easy for them to leave a review by having a link from your website with instructions. It is against the policy of all major online review sites to offer payment for reviews, and could result in your business getting banned or having charges filed.

What Not To Do When You Receive a Negative Review

  1. Ignore the Review. Doing nothing and ignoring bad reviews in the hopes they’ll go away sends a message that your business doesn’t care when people have negative experiences.
  2. Argue Back. It’s natural to feel angry and get defensive when someone posts a negative review about your business. But responding in anger could further damage your reputation permanently, and getting into a back-and-forth argument for all to see is never a good thing.
  3. Try to Beat the System. Some business owners have paid people to write fake positive reviews to counter the impact of negative reviews. This is a bad idea, as it comes with the very likely possibility that you’ll get caught then banned from those sites or even have charges filed against you.

What To Do When You Receive a Negative Online Review

  1. Respond Professionally. When responding to a negative review, keep it professional. Passive-aggressive or sarcastic comments will only make things worse. You can choose to respond privately (useful when you disagree with a reviewer’s take on a situation) or publicly, which helps to demonstrate to other readers that you’re addressing the problem.
  2. Address the Problem Directly. Your response should always acknowledge the customer’s pain point to let them know that you understand and empathize with their experience. Identify the underlying issue and lead with an apology. This empathy adds a human element to your business and helps to mend the wounds of a bad experience.
  3. Keep the Response Brief and Polite. No matter how strongly the negative review makes you feel, you must always be polite in your tone. Don’t accuse the customer of wrongdoing or lying; this is the fastest way to defeat your attempt to fix the issue.
  4. Take the Conversation Offline. You never want to spark a back-and-forth argument online. A more effective approach is to drive the conversation offline and towards a personal phone call, and offering to listen to the complaint more in-depth and arrive at a resolution. This proves that you are truly looking to fix the problem, and not just trying to save face online.

StructureM can help you mange your online reputation. If you have any questions or need help with managing or responding to reviews, contact us today.