Blogs | Brad Poirier

How To Respond To Negative Reviews

The great Don Draper once said "If you don't like what is being said, then change the conversation." So while it may be super frustrating to see one of those pesky millennials leaving you a bad review because their Valentine's dinner didn't go as planned, this presents a great opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade. Negative reviews are just as important as positive reviews. How could that be?

Google loves reviews. The more Google loves you, the better chance you have of another Taco.. or three.. four. A bad review isn't always a bad reflection on your business, it's just consumers way of giving you feedback or reaching out for a listening ear to make a wrong, right. In all the years I've been on Yelp and Facebook, what I've seen that most people want when leaving a review, is just to have a voice. When I go out to a restaurant or to any retail business these days, if there's a problem and I muster up the courage to speak to a manager, I have no idea how that manager is going to take that feedback. They might be too busy to pay attention or just lack the customer service skills required to actually care.

That's where online reviews come in. Some may think that it's a case of anonymous bravery behind a computer screeen, but when someone is leaving a negative review, they might just want to get in touch - on their own terms. You have to be prepared to communicate with them on those terms.

Below are some general do's and dont's on how to respond to negative reviews. By the way, this could apply to positive reviews in many ways. You should respond to every online review, both positive and negative. Yes, it require a little bit of time, but you would never ignore a customer that's right in front of you. It can be a daunting task, however, to scour the internet for every review out there. That's why there is Online Reputation Management available. Reputation Management involves software that automatically finds any mention of your business on the internet and provides an alert and a tool to respond to them, regardless of which social media directory they left the review on. Learn more about Online Reputation Management here.

BONUS: Download our free guide: "Responding To Negative Reviews"

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Tip 1: Responding

Respond to every review. Every one. Try to do this within 48 hours if it's a negative review. (Up to five days for a positive). The worst thing you could do is ignore them. If you're online business profile is in the social media rut where you currently have more 1-star reviews than 4's or 5's, guess what: Potential customers see this also. Heads up: 70% of consumers will trust an online review before they trust their friend's recommendation! It's not the 1-star review that's the issue, it's that you're not responding to it. Customers see that, and so they assume that you don't care about the customer experience.

Tip 2: Language

The second worst thing you could do is to respond with any sort of sarcastic rhetoric. I've met with business owners who proudly speak of the negative responses they leave. The only time that has ever worked out is back in 2015 when the manager of the White Moose Cafe in Dublin went viral for their anti-vegan posting. That's not going to happen for most businesses though, and it's still not good anyway. Here's the thing: When you leave a negative response to a negative review, as whitty as it may have been written this only accomplishes a few things: 1) It tells customers you're a joke for a business owner, 2) It shows you have no compassion, 3) Other customers will see this and be turned off, 4) You're just adding fuel to the fire. Your job is to put the fire out, to respond in kind and turn the bad experience into an opportunity.

Download our guide on Responding To Negative Reviews for some best practices

Tip 3: Genuine

Consumers today can tell of a disingenuous response faster than they can spot a fake news story. Yes, you should have a few canned responses ready to go, but you should tailor them a bit. Everyone's situation is different, and your response should be different as well. All it really takes is a little bit of whit and a lot of love. It could be the difference between "I'm sorry about your experience, please contact management at 401-555-1212 so we can learn how we can correct this" and something like "Oh boy, we missed the mark on this one. Next beer is on us! Just tell the bartender Stinky Steve said so". (Assuming the issue was a smelly bar that night!) You could have that response ready to go but quickly insert a personalized response to it. Consumers love personalized content. The online reviewer who left that will see that you're authentic. Plus they'll see that you can take a virtual punch while throwing an appropriate reply back at the same time.

Let's review:
#1 - Respond, and respond quickly. No more than 48 hours. Use an alert system such as an Online Reputation Management tool to monitor your brand's image.

#2 - Use kind language. Play nice with others, don't be defensive or aggressive.

#3 - Be authentic, create personalized messages to go along with your tempalted responses.

Follow these steps and you will be changing the conversation about your brand in no time.

What are some good responses that you can think of?

This article originally posted at Breeze Digital Media

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