The sense of accomplishment and pride in your business is unmatched. This is especially true when a customer leaves a good review about your business online. But, with all the great reviews your business receives, there are bound to be some bad ones in the mix. Although negative reviews can feel unjustified, even personal, it’s important to always respond with patience and professionalism.
Remember that there’s a person behind those unkind words. Sometimes bad online reviews are the only way for customers to feel heard. If they’re unsatisfied, they know that writing a bad review will get your business’ attention. Take the time to investigate the situation and come up with a well thought out response.
Why Respond to Bad Online Reviews
You may be tempted to ignore online reviews of your company, especially if you find them unfair or exaggerated. But it’s important to respond to all reviews, good and bad.
One reason to respond is to boost your company’s Google listing. More reviews, and more responses to reviews, will help your business listing appear higher in search results. Responding is a quick and easy way to get more eyes on your business.
Additionally, it’s essential to show other customers that you care. When you respond to a review, you’re not just talking to that customer. Whether you’re responding on Google, Yelp, even Facebook, you’re writing for everyone. Anyone looking through reviews can see your response to a negative review, and how you handle them can encourage them to or deter them from working with you.
When you respond to bad online reviews with understanding, your business listing shows that it cares about its customers. Showing potential future customers that their satisfaction is important to you increases their confidence in your business.
Don’t believe us? Check out this 2018 study by the Harvard Business Review. They found that responding to customer reviews is one of the best things you can do for your business.
How to Respond to Bad Online Reviews
Responding to your company’s reviews doesn’t have to be difficult. As long as you maintain your professionalism and show you care, responding to bad online reviews is a simple process.
Remain straightforward and empathetic in your response. Let the customer know that you understand why they’re upset and you’d like to correct the situation. This shows that you’re invested in making sure every customer has a positive perception of your business.
Prompt response is also important. The longer reviews sit unanswered, the more people will see it without your response. We recommend getting notifications for reviews, which is easy to set up through Google. You can receive email notifications to your phone, so you know as soon as a review is posted.
John Smith: I visited Company and was extremely disappointed in their service. I’ve never experienced anything like it. I waited nearly fifteen minutes for an employee to approach me. The employee that finally came to talk to me was very rude. I was so upset that, after spending almost twenty minutes waiting to have my question answered, the employee told me they didn’t have the Product I was looking for and they couldn’t help me. It was the worst service I’ve ever had.
Owner: Hi John, we’re so sorry to hear about this experience at Company. Our customer service is very important to us and we want to correct this situation. We would like to make this right. If you could call in to [phone number] and ask for me, [name], or email [email} with your contact information, we’d gladly send a gift certificate for your troubles.
How Not to Respond to Bad Online Reviews
Negative reviews of your business can feel personal. But, remember not to treat them as such. These people are upset with your business, and you need to respond with courtesy and professionalism.
Generally you should avoid responses that refute the original reviewer’s point. Instead, try to be understanding. They’re angry and want to feel heard, not argued with. Apologize for the experience, tell them you care, and offer to reach out to them about the situation if necessary. If you can, you should correct the situation and ask them to edit their review.
Remember, a company’s bad online reviews are an opportunity to learn directly from your customers. Good or bad, they let you know what stands out to patrons, enough for them to take the time to write a review. If your business cares at all about your customer, their experience should be top on your list of important items.
Once you know what the pain points are for your customers when they are doing business with you, they can be addressed. Imagine having issues with your sales process, or even product delivery or demonstration and having no idea! An issue can’t be fixed if you don’t know it exists!
John Smith: I visited Company and was extremely disappointed in their service. I’ve never experienced anything like it. Waited nearly fifteen minutes for an employee to approach me. The employee that finally came to talk to me was very rude. I was so upset that, after spending almost twenty minutes waiting to have my question answered, the employee told me they didn’t have the Product I was looking for and they couldn’t help me. It was the worst service I’ve ever had.
Owner: Our store salespeople are very busy serving all customers that walk through our doors. Our sales department strives to give each customer one on one attention while they’re being helped. This is why you spent so much time waiting, as the sales team was helping other customers. Just like we expect the salesperson attempting to help you with your needs to spend as much time with you as necessary. We’re sorry our store was so busy on the day you came in and would appreciate more patience in the future. Thank you, John.
Identifying Fake Bad Online Reviews
Among internet trolls stirring up trouble and angry business competitors, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter a few fake reviews in your time. Luckily, especially with some practice, they can be easy to spot.
If a review seems suspicious, talk to your employees. Ask if any of them know what the reviewer is talking about, especially when it refers to a negative encounter at your business. In addition, most review sites include the reviewer’s name. If you have a customer database program, or any way to record who does business with you, you can look for the reviewer’s name in your database.
Another step to take when you spot suspicious bad online reviews is to dig into the details. Check the date it was written. If there’s any details in the review that give a time frame, like referring to a certain employee or product you offer, you can tell if the reviewer is being truthful. If they refer to a product, service or person not associated with your business, it’s probably a fake review.
The next thing to do is look into the reviewer. On sites like Google and Yelp, you can click the person’s name and see other reviews they’ve written. If the reviews are all over the country, all negative, or only of similar businesses, they might be fake.
Negative reviews written by competing businesses is, unfortunately, something you have to be aware of. After looking at other reviews by the user, you can take another look at the review itself. Reviews that mention another business or store they visited for a better experience or a better product are a red flag.
Tackling Fake Bad Online Reviews
Now that you’ve identified a fake review, you have to decide how you’re going to handle it. You can flag reviews on Google and other sites, but it’s extremely difficult to prove to Google that this customer didn’t actually interact with your business. Even if you have no record of them on file, it won’t be enough for Google to take the review down. After all, if they didn’t make a purchase they might not be on file.
Google Support will take you through the steps to remove bad online reviews from your Google My Business profile.
Once you decide a review is definitely faked, and probably won’t be taken down, you have to craft the perfect response. We recommend being brief and pleasant when you defend your company. You shouldn’t explicitly call them an internet troll, but you should let others know that there’s no record of this person ever doing business with you
John Smith: My wife and I visited Company last week in search of [product]. We were hugely disappointed in this business. Waited inside for almost fifteen minutes before an employee approached us. I found everyone there very rude and the store was very dirty. After this experience, we visited Competing Business and were delighted with the service. We ended up purchasing from Competing Business and couldn’t be happier. I would recommend [Competing Business] over business for better service and better products.
Owner: Hi John, we take negative reviews very seriously. Unfortunately, our staff members do not recall the experience. We’ll need more information to verify your identity. We’d like to investigate this issue further and make things right for you and your wife! Please contact [name] at [email] or [phone] so we can talk further to come to an apologetic resolution.
Whether your reviews are really bad online reviews or done by internet trolls, it’s important to keep an eye on them. Responding to all reviews is one of the best things you can do for your company and your customers.