6 Steps on How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Unfortunately, negative reviews can undermine your business reputation. Your online reputation is your strongest asset or biggest liability and should never be taken lightly. According to BrightLocal.com, "customers read up to 10 reviews before being able to trust a local business." Having that in mind, here are the steps on how to analyze and respond to negative online reviews.

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How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Think of negative reviews as a crisis management situation for your business that needs an immediate solution. What should your business do first? The experts suggest that you should act in the first 48 hours and have a game plan before negative reviews have a chance to impact your business.

1. Building an Online Presence and Reputation

When your business is regrouping from negative reviews, there's a right and a wrong way to rebuild your reputation. However, the best way to thwart a negative review is to make sure your reputation is intact from the very beginning. Customer Service professional Shep Hyken, customer service and experience expert, reported that 95% of dissatisfied customers will return to a business if their concerns are resolved quickly. Here's what your business should do:

  • Invest in online reputation management software.
  • Proactively publish useful, positive information.
  • Build a website.
  • Update your blog frequently.
  • Be active on social media.
  • Reach out to your loyal customers (online and offline).

Maintaining and repairing your online reputation is one of the most important elements to rebounding from negative comments or feedback about your business. Not every customer will have something positive to say about you, but with the proper steps, your company can manage and maintain its reputation. Successfully managing your reputation can help you improve your customer retention and protect your ROI.

2. Time and Crisis Management

The need for time-sensitive crisis management often takes place in the digital world. Your business should never ignore negative reviews and believe they'll go away on their own. Your reputation is something to be taken seriously and one negative review can tarnish your good name. Instead of waiting until the last minute, work to resolve any issues you have with your customers within the first 48 hours. Your customers are also watching how you handle other people's concerns. A crisis prevention plan will help you address negative reviews right away.

3. Offer a Solution

When your business is faced with negative reviews, offer your customers an immediate solution to their concerns (publicly if possible). Your business should be willing to openly discuss the matter with your customers offline.

For example, when it comes to your reputation, a chatbot (artificial intelligence) is not the way to resolve a customer complaint. Be willing to tackle the problem head-on by offering your customers the best resolution.

In fact, customer experience (CX) and customer engagement will play a significant role in your business reputation. A happy customer will likely recommend your business to their friends and family.


4. Transfer a Bad Review Into a Positive One

Transforming a negative review into a positive one is easier than you think. For example, if a customer isn't satisfied with your business or brand and leaves a negative review, if your business resolves the matter to your customer's satisfaction, you can ask them to leave an updated or replacement review. Many customers will love to see that you satisfied an unhappy customer, turning a negative review into a positive one. The best way to combat a negative review is by correcting the issue with that particular customer for others to see an improved star rating.

5. How to Remove a Bad Review

Be wary of online reputation management (ORM) providers that promise to remove negative reviews. According to the experts, it's nearly impossible to remove negative reviews from the internet. Businesses can counteract negative content by proactively adding useful and positive reviews (mentioned above). Block out negative content with positive content (often).

Never resort to fake reviews that can cost your company thousands of dollars in fines and also cause self-inflicted negative reviews of your business. Your customers want to know they're dealing with someone trustworthy. To successfully neutralize negative reviews, ask your loyal customers to leave feedback after every purchase or positive business transaction.

6. Elements to Avoid When Writing a Reply

The language or tone of voice your business chooses to respond to customer reviews plays a role in securing a positive online reputation. ORM is imperative to the comprehensive success of digital marketing. Responding to reviews is important for your search engine rank, but the response itself can help you combat any negative reviews and maintain a positive reputation. When writing a reply your tone of voice can ensure a happy ending rather than further enraging a customer. Avoid any language or tone of voice that:

  • Encourage the trolls.
  • Are dishonest.
  • Disengage the customer.
  • Anger the customer.

There's nothing more important than your business's reputation. Social media plays a significant role in that, too. Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit are the largest social media outlets that customers use to voice their opinions about a business or brand. In fact, their opinions oftentimes have the potential to go viral.

If you offer high-quality customer service, those customers are likely to leave a positive review. Your reputation is the lifeline of your success. Every business should have an online reputation management strategy to ward off negative reviews. Otherwise, these bad reviews can add up and impact their sales, growth, and more.