In today’s digital age, online reviews have become an essential part of consumer decision-making. Whether it’s choosing a restaurant, purchasing a product, or booking a hotel, people rely heavily on reviews to gauge a business’s quality and reputation. However, negative online reviews can be detrimental to a company’s image and potentially drive away potential customers.
As a business owner, marketer or reputation manager, it is crucial to understand how to respond to negative online reviews effectively. The way you handle these reviews can either damage your brand’s reputation further or turn a dissatisfied customer into a loyal advocate. In this article, we will discuss some common mistakes businesses make when responding to negative online reviews. We will also provide guidelines on how to avoid them. Let’s dive in!
Negative reviews can cost businesses up to 22% in lost sales.
Mistake 1: Ignoring or Deleting Negative Online Reviews
Example: No response.
One of the biggest mistakes businesses commit is ignoring or deleting bad reviews. Avoiding the issue or pretending it never happened will not make it go away. In fact, it could worsen matters. Ignoring negative online reviews shows a lack of concern for your customers’ feedback and can lead to a loss of trust.
Solution: Acknowledge and Address the Concerns
When you encounter a negative review, acknowledge the customer’s concerns. Responding promptly and genuinely shows that you value their feedback and are committed to resolving any issues.
Here are five steps to effectively address negative reviews:
- Read the review thoroughly and understand the customer’s specific concerns.
- Thank the customer for providing feedback and express empathy for their negative experience.
- Avoid making excuses or blaming the customer. Instead, take responsibility and focus on finding a solution.
- Offer a direct contact method, such as a phone number or email address, where the customer can contact you privately.
- Follow up with the customer to ensure their issues have been resolved and show your commitment to customer satisfaction.
By acknowledging and addressing negative reviews, you demonstrate your willingness to listen to your customers and improve their experience.
Mistake 2: Responding Emotionally or Being Defensive
Example: “We’ve been in business for 10 years and nobody has ever complained about this before.”
It’s natural to feel defensive or upset when encountering a negative review, especially if you believe it is unjustified. However, responding emotionally or defensively on a public platform is a major mistake. It can make your business appear unprofessional and deter potential customers.
Solution: Stay Calm and Professional
When crafting a response to a negative online review, take a deep breath and remain calm. Remember that your response is visible to the public and potential customers.
Here are some tips for maintaining a calm and professional tone:
- Begin by expressing gratitude for the feedback, regardless of its negative nature.
- Avoid defensive language or attacking the reviewer personally.
- Respond with empathy and understanding, acknowledging their frustration and disappointment.
- Apologize for any inconvenience caused and assure them that you are committed to making things right.
- Offer a solution or steps to address the issue and invite the customer to reach out privately for further assistance.
By responding in a calm and professional manner, you can show potential customers that you are dedicated to resolving any problems and providing exceptional customer service.
Mistake 3: Failing to Apologize
Example: “It’s a pity you didn’t enjoy your meal. Most customers rave about our dishes.”
Regardless of whether the negative review is warranted or not, failing to apologize is another common mistake businesses make. A sincere apology can go a long way toward diffusing a negative situation and showing that you care about your customers’ experiences.
Solution: Apologize and Take Responsibility
Start your response by apologizing for the customer’s negative experience. Even if you believe the issue was beyond your control, take responsibility for any inconvenience caused. This demonstrates empathy and willingness to make things right.
Here’s how you can apologize effectively:
- Use a sincere and empathetic tone to convey your apology.
- Avoid making excuses or shifting blame to external factors.
- Acknowledge the customer’s frustration and assure them that their feedback is valuable to you.
- Highlight your commitment to learning from their experience and improving your products or services.
By offering a genuine apology, you can show your customers that you value their feedback and are dedicated to providing a better experience in the future.
Use negative reviews as an opportunity to improve your business.
Mistake 4: Offering Generic Responses
Example: “Thank you for your feedback. We value your opinion and will take it into consideration.”
Providing generic responses to negative online reviews can make your business seem disinterested and insincere. Customers want to feel heard and understood, and a generic response will only add to their frustration.
Solution: Personalize Your Responses
Take the time to read and understand the customer’s complaint before responding. Address their concerns specifically and include personal details in your reply. This shows that you have taken their feedback seriously and are genuinely interested in resolving the issue.
Consider these tips for personalizing your responses:
- Reference specific details from the customer’s review to demonstrate that you have carefully considered their feedback.
- Tailor your response to the individual customer’s experience rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach.
- Offer specific solutions or actions to address their concerns.
- Show gratitude for their feedback and emphasize your commitment to continuously improving.
By personalizing your responses, you can rebuild trust and showcase your dedication to customer satisfaction.
Mistake 5: Arguing Publicly or Engaging in Online Battles
Example: “You are totally wrong. This never happened. We have the best service and you’re just a complainer.”
Engaging in a public argument or exchanging heated comments with a dissatisfied customer can damage your brand’s reputation. It not only creates a negative perception but also diminishes your credibility.
Solution: Take the Conversation Offline
If a customer becomes confrontational or the situation escalates, it’s essential to take the conversation offline. Provide a direct contact method such as an email address or phone number and encourage the customer to reach out privately.
Follow these steps to take the conversation offline:
- Politely and calmly respond to the customer’s concerns, expressing your willingness to resolve the issue.
- Make sure to provide a direct contact method and suggest that the conversation be continued privately.
- Avoid further public exchanges, even if the customer persists.
- Address the customer’s concerns privately and work towards a resolution.
By handling the issue privately, you can address the customer’s concerns more effectively and prevent further damage to your online reputation.
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Mistake 6: Using Sarcasm or Comedic Insults in Your Response
Example: “Congratulations, you’ve won the award for the most ridiculous complaint of the day!”
This one is maybe more for the Brits! While humor can sometimes defuse a tense situation, using sarcasm or comedic insults in your response to a negative review is generally an unwise idea. It can come off as disrespectful and make the customer feel unheard or belittled, further damaging your relationship.
Solution: Maintain a Respectful and Professional Tone
Treat every review, positive or negative, with respect. While it’s okay to keep your tone friendly, always stay professional and avoid humor that could offend or upset the customer.
Here’s how to maintain a respectful and professional tone:
- Address the customer’s concerns in a polite and straightforward manner.
- Avoid using sarcasm, comedic insults, or any form of humor that might be misinterpreted or seen as dismissive.
- Show understanding and empathy, even if you disagree with the customer’s perspective.
- Reiterate your commitment to resolving the issue and improving their experience.
Mistake 7: Buck-Passing or Blaming Employees
Example: “It’s unfortunate that our server had a bad day and messed up your order. He usually does a much better job.”
While it might be tempting to shift the blame to specific employees or other factors, doing so in response to a negative review can make your business appear irresponsible. It can also create a hostile work environment and lower employee morale.
Solution: Take Responsibility as a Business
Rather than blaming individuals, take responsibility as a business. Show that you are committed to making improvements and preventing such incidents from happening in the future.
Consider these steps when taking responsibility:
- Avoid blaming specific employees or departments publicly.
- Show that you are taking the review seriously and are committed to addressing the issues raised.
- Mention the steps your business will take to improve or resolve the problem.
- Follow up with the customer to update them on the improvements made based on their feedback.
By taking responsibility and avoiding buck-passing or blaming employees, you can maintain a strong brand image and demonstrate your commitment to continual improvement.
70% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company that responds to negative reviews.
To Sum Up
Negative online reviews are an inevitable part of business today. How you respond to these reviews can profoundly impact your brand’s image and customer perception. By avoiding the common mistakes discussed in this article and following the provided solutions, you can turn negative experiences into opportunities for growth. This will showcase your commitment to exceptional customer service. Remember, every review is a chance to learn, improve, and build trust with your customers.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is one common mistake businesses make when responding to negative online reviews?
One common mistake businesses make is ignoring or deleting negative reviews.
How should businesses address negative reviews effectively?
Businesses should acknowledge customer concerns, respond promptly and genuinely, avoid making excuses, and offer a direct contact method for further assistance.
What should businesses avoid when responding to negative online reviews?
Businesses should avoid responding sarcastically, emotionally, or defensively, using defensive language, or attacking the reviewer personally.
Why is it important for businesses to apologize for negative experiences mentioned in reviews?
Businesses should apologize to show empathy, diffuse negative situations, and demonstrate their commitment to making things right.
How Not to Respond to Negative Online Reviews