Negative online business reviews are inevitable – even companies with consistent 5-star reviews get a handful of 1-star reviews from time to time. The most common negative reviews concern the topic of poor service, which could translate into complaints like long wait times, dealing with rude employees, or overdue payments (to name a few). With the rise in review websites like Yelp and Trip Advisor, it’s more important than ever for companies to learn how to respond to negative reviews in a proper and timely matter.
You Received a Negative Review, Now What?
First off, accept that negative reviews are normal and common. If you don’t deal with your customers on a daily basis, this can be hard to see for the first time, so it’s important to be aware and accept it. Next, you’ll want to put together a plan to respond to negative reviews. Every business should have one of these plans put in place early on in their tenure, and the relevant team members should know how to respond to negative reviews.
Responding to Negative Reviews- Dos and Don’ts
Businesses must acknowledge their customers in order to inspire loyalty. Think of it this way – when a customer invests their time and effort to evaluate a business and they don’t receive a response, you could lose that customer. Be sure to respond in a timely matter – if you don’t, they will take their business elsewhere. Research shows that customer emotions become permanent with time, so it’s best for an effective intervention to take place as close to the experience as possible. Issue a formal statement addressing the complaint(s) and naming the steps you’ll be taking to resolve the issues.
You should never be waiting around for negative reviews to happen. Ideally, you’ll want to address any of these issues and intervene before those online business reviews are published. This allows them to mitigate the negative experiences and amplify the positive ones in the minds of customers. You can do this through your social media channels and your customer service email account, for example. Additionally, be sure to address and remediate poor reviews before launching an aggressive, proactive marketing campaign.
To combat any negative reviews, reach out to your happy customers and ask them to post their own reviews. You could also reach out to bloggers and influencers in your business’ niche and have them write about their experience using your product or working with your business. Lastly, invite those customers with poor experiences to come back when the issue is resolved (this could mean comping their next meal, for example).
It’s important to remember that online reputation management (like responding to negative reviews online) is a Band-Aid approach and not a permanent cure. If your business is proactive in seeking out and acting on your customers’ instant feedback promptly, you’ll not only retain existing customers but also add new ones through positive word-of-mouth.
Removing a Defamatory Review
Most established review websites and social media platforms allow you to request the removal of any defamatory reviews. It’s best to go to the website the review is posted at and look for their policy on the issue (often this can be found in their FAQ or Legal section, but a quick Google search can save the day if this doesn’t yield results). If your negative reviews are indexed in a search engine like Google, you can visit their Legal Removal Request page, which allows you to seek to obtain a judgment from a court declaring the statements in a review to be false, and then present the court order to Google with the goal of having the relevant URL(s) de-indexed from Google.