How To Handle Negative Online Reviews
Getting four- and five-star reviews for your business is like opening presents on Christmas Day as a kid − exciting and wonderful.
Key Takeaways You Will Get From This Article
To properly deal with negative online reviews, first determine if the review is real or spam, create a list of common responses to refer to, personalize the response, and explain how you are fixing the problem.
That is, until you open your email to see reviews like:
“If I could give this place zero stars, I would. Our server was SO RUDE. Never coming back.” - Cheryl P.
"Go here if you want to have worst customer service experience of your life. One star just doesn't seem low enough to represent my recent visit." - Timothy H.
How should you approach those?
Navigating the waters of negative online reviews for your business can be tricky, so it is best to adapt to a step-by-step plan to making appropriate responses.
Below, we walk you through a 4-step plan on determining what response is best for any negative review that comes your way.
1. Determine if the review is real or spam.
Not every review comes from an actual customer.
While most social media sites won’t let you immediately delete a fake review, you can report spam comments.
Hearing back from your reports can take up to two weeks, so be patient.
2. Create a list of common responses to refer to.
Negative reviews can be incredibly disheartening—especially when you feel like you’ve been characterized inaccurately.
Take a step back and breathe. The worst thing you can do is respond out of anger.
Instead of responding right away, take a few minutes to jot down a list of lines (that are robotic-sounding or canned) that you can refer back to whenever you are unsure of how to start a response to a negative customer review.
It can be helpful to have a list of canned responses to use as a starting point as you express genuine concern for their poor experience.
For example, a sincere “I’m very sorry to hear about your negative experience. That was never our intention. We appreciate your feedback and want to make it right.”
3. Personalize the response.
Often times, a disappointed customer just wants to be heard.
Which means, a canned response isn’t enough.
Personalize the message and respond to the customer’s specific grievances. Most customer reviews are left under the customer's actual name, which means that when you respond, you should use their first name.
Let's pretend we are responding to the first negative review from above.
An appropriate, personalized response could be: "Cheryl, I am so sorry to hear about your recent visit. We strive to provide high-quality experiences and customer service to all of our guests. Please send us a direct message or call in so we can make it right and your next experience better."
Addressing your customer by name personalizes it and shows that you truly care for their personal experience.
Be sure to apologize, even if you truly believe it is not your fault.
Furthermore, requesting a message or phone call from Cheryl shows that you as the business owner care about all of your customers' experiences at your restaurant and are determined to show her the best experience for her next visit.
4. Explain how you are fixing the problem.
Whether you’re responding with a public comment, private message, or phone call, you should explain what steps you are taking to fix the issue.
Do you no longer carry someone’s favorite cereal? Explain how the customer can request a product at their local store.
Customer satisfaction is the key to the success of your small business. If you’re working on a solution, share it with the dissatisfied patron.
Every negative comment or review simply wants it to be corrected. They want a solution to the problem they experienced and they want to hear it from the business.
It is important to reply to your online reviews, both positive and negative, because it distinguishes your business as one that truly cares about its customers and their experiences with your company.
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