One thing almost everybody agrees on: you NEED to respond to a bad review.
Just ignoring it won’t work. It won’t go away on its own.
Even if the bad review is wrong and the reviewer is rude or insulting, take the high road and give your best public relations response.
Why is responding to critical reviews so important?
Acknowledging the reviewer and responding with courtesy and appreciation for their feedback (even if you don’t feel particularly appreciative right now) will reap benefits down the road.
Even if you don’t win over the reviewer, future customers will be reading your answer, and they will judge you and your business by how you respond to your customers’ concerns.
In this article, we’ll show you effective ways to respond to bad reviews. First, we’ll look at how to respond publicly—in response to online comments, articles, and videos. Next, we’ll cover what you can do privately, behind the scenes, to deliver on your customer service promises.
Responding to Bad Reviews in Public
There are a few basics to keep in mind when responding publicly:
- be prompt
- be professional
- be helpful (do your best to solve the customer’s problem).
The speed of your response matters. Get back to your customer ASAP. Thank them for their comment and offer to fix the problem. Even if you prefer to resolve issues offline or privately, it’s important to respond promptly.
Many businesses even set up automated responses to let the customer know someone will be in touch soon (or inviting them to call directly) to resolve the problem.
Before you respond, take a deep breath. Don’t write your response when you’re mad. Don’t get personal. Be professional and respectful, even if you think the reviewer is exaggerating (or not a customer at all!). Don’t be defensive.
Shama Kabani, author of The Zen of Social Media Marketing, puts it this way: “Online, the customer is always right, even when they’re wrong.”
Be Helpful (Solve the Problem)
According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, 56%-70% of customers who complain will do business with you again if you resolve their problem. Up to 96% will do business with you again “if you act quickly and to their satisfaction.”
Sometimes a customer just wants to be heard. Often just letting them know that you’re aware of their complaint and indicating you’re willing to resolve the issue is enough.
The above three tips are helpful, but how can you respond in specific situations? Social Media reviews and engagement differ from comments on articles. Make your response fit the platform.
Responding to Bad Reviews on Social Media
Reviews and ratings on social media like Facebook, Google, and YouTube are so visible that a negative review can seriously damage your brand.
97% of consumers read online reviews.
49% won’t use a business with less than a four-star rating.
So, how can you respond to bad reviews on social media?
Start by checking for keywords in the review that will tell you why the customer is dissatisfied. Use these words in a short reply to show you’ve read the review and you’re speaking the same language as your customer.
- Thank the customer for taking the time to give you feedback
- Apologize for whatever went wrong
- Explain how you’re going to fix the problem
- Maybe offer a sweetener like a discount or freebie (this can be done in a private follow-up)
If you can, avoid using your name and location in your reply, so it’s less likely to attract the attention of search engines. While your professional response can turn a negative review into an overall positive for your business, you still don’t want to direct potential clients to the review in question.
Responding to Bad Reviews Privately
After you have given some form of response in public, be ready to follow up offline. If the problem can’t be solved right away, ask the customer to contact you by phone or stop by your place of business to discuss it in person.
NEVER get into an argument with a customer online.
Communicating privately can give you a chance to show you are sincere. It can also help weed out illegitimate reviews from people who may not have actually purchased your product or service.
Go the extra mile.
Offering the customer a do over, a coupon, a discount, or a freebie is another way to turn a negative into a positive.
And, after successfully resolving the problem and satisfying the customer ask for an updated review.
Get More Reviews
Whether you respond publicly or privately, one of the surest ways to combat negative reviews is to secure more positive reviews.
Customers are realists. They don’t expect perfection. They may actually trust a business with a 4.5-star rating more than those with a perfect 5.0. They know you can’t please all of the people all of the time. As Kabani points out, “What [customers] are really looking for is humanity and a genuine response.”
Your honest, professional response—one that includes an apology and a plan to solve the problem—shows that your company can be trusted.
A Bad Review Can Be an Opportunity
A good response to a bad review is crucial to maintaining trust in your brand and your business. Make your response prompt, professional, and make sure it solves the problem.
Demonstrating empathy with the customer, both online and offline, can turn a bad review into an opportunity.
Learn more about Why You Need to Respond to Bad Reviews.