How to respond to negative reviews

Online reviews are a great way to get noticed and encouraging customers to give feedback can be good for business. But every now and then, a disgruntled client might leave some less than savoury remarks on Yelp, Google My Business or Facebook.

Imagine this: you’ve tidied up, closed the till and made your preparations for tomorrow. You’re on your way home when a notification lights up your phone: “Someone has reviewed your business!” it exclaims. Eager to hear their feedback, you sign in to your account, only to see every business owner’s worst fear… 1-star.

How could this have happened? You were nice to everyone. Nobody complained. Why would anyone go out of their way to say such awful things? Your blood is boiling. Before you go ahead and respond with something you may regret, we’ve got a few recommendations on how to minimize the damage.

Take a breather

First things first, don’t stress. Instead of rushing to respond, take a deep breath and give yourself a few minutes to cool down. The worst thing you can do is answer in the heat of the moment. This is when you’re most likely to say something in retaliation, which will make you look like the bad guy. If you give yourself some time, you’ll be much more measured in your response and less likely to instigate further complaints.

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Be Timely

While it’s okay to take a breather, you should never put off answering for too long or ignore the review in hope that it “goes away.” If the customer is taking the time to write a review, it’s obviously something that needs to be addressed. A timely response shows that you take your customers’ concerns seriously and that you care about solving the issue.

Don’t delete

If you’re tempted to delete or report a negative review, don’t do it. The internet has a collective memory, and trying to censor or take down a review can sometimes lead to even more criticism. This theory is known as The Streisand Effect and relates to Barbra Streisand’s attempt to suppress images of her Malibu home, which invariably led to more interest in the pictures. By attempting to remove negative content, you may end up propagating it instead.

(source: reviewtrackers.com)

Answer from a business account

It’s always best to answer from the company account rather than a personal one, as it gives the response a more weight. If you don’t have a business account set up, you’ll have to create an account. Here are the links for Yelp and Google My Business.

The more details you get, the easier it will be to make sure this problem doesn’t happen again. Was it an issue with the service? The product? Maybe they just had a hard time finding parking and got a ticket? Feel free to ask for follow up, and be sure to give them a phone number or e-mail where they can reach you if you don’t want to drag things out in public.

Get the details

The more details you get, the easier it will be to make sure this problem doesn’t happen again. Was it an issue with the service? The product? Maybe they just had a hard time finding parking and got a ticket? Feel free to ask for follow up, and be sure to give them a phone number or e-mail where they can reach you if you don’t want to drag things out in public.

Embrace the critique

As a business owner, it’s not always easy to see the issues facing your business, and sometimes, a bad review is the best place to point that out. When you receive negative feedback from a customer, take the opportunity to do some self reflection and see if there’s any merit to what they’re saying. And be sure to thank them for their feedback! Validating their concerns is an important part of the process.

Don’t be defensive

When a customer attacks your business, it’s easy to get defensive. They have no idea of the sweat and tears that you put into this establishment. But let’s be honest, you won’t win over a customer by yelling at them and going on the defensive will just make you look bad. If you’re going to explain yourself, do it in a professional and honest manner. Customers appreciate the when you tell them the truth and are generally quite rational. The more candid you are with them, the more likely you are to win them over.

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How not to respond (via eater.com)

Apologize

Even if you don’t think you were in the wrong, an apology can go a long way and is usually the first step to redemption. It can be tough to swallow, but apologizing brings you back on par with the customer and can help mend a relationship.

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Offer to talk in person

If the customer is particularly stubborn, offer to have them come by your business or to go and meet them somewhere. The more that you show you’re committed to solving the problem, the more likely it is that they’ll be to change their opinion.

Have you had a negative review of your business? How did you respond? Let us know in the comments! Got something you want to tell us? Feel free to leave us a review too!

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Youri Hollier

Youri Hollier

As Lightspeed’s Social Media Manager, Youri Hollier is always looking for new ways to bring social media to the forefront of business operations. He’s obsessed with all things digital, being outdoors and searching for the world’s most delicious sandwiches.