The Dos and Don’ts of Responding to Negative Reviews

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Bad reviews are going to happen, but what you do next is vital.

The Inevitable Negative Review

Has your business received negative reviews? Criticism is a part of life, and often, it can be helpful even when it’s a little hard to handle. But when the criticism is online for the entire world to see—suddenly, it stops seeming constructive and becomes impactful to your business. Luckily, even when bad or negative reviews happen there are things you can do to make the experience better.

Although it may not be on the top of your things-I’d-like-to-do list, taking the time to respond to negative reviews and engaging the negative reviewers can actually be incredibly beneficial for your business going forward if done correctly. It can be tricky turning the negatives into positives, though, so here are some tips on approaching a negative review or reviewer the right way.

Take a moment to keep your cool. There’s nothing worse than attempting to tackle a situation when you’re feeling hot-headed or hurt. Wait a beat. Take a breath. When you’re sure you can approach the reviewer with a calm state of mind, you’re ready. And get a second opinion—showing your response to someone before sending it is always a good precaution.

Remember who has the upper hand here. Here’s a hint: it’s not you. It’s unfortunate and perhaps a bit unfair, but it’s important to remember that the customer is always right (even when they’re wrong). Make sure you don’t use the conversation to prove a point or get aggressive, defensive, or pushy—this is a chance to build a relationship with a reviewer, not reprimand them. At the end of the day, what you’re trying to do here is make them like your business more, not less.

Don’t get defensive. Be humble, honest, and understanding. Don’t play the denial game, even if what the reviewer said may not have happened as they claimed. Saying something like “I know that could never have happened at my company,” or “None of my employees would ever do that,” or “It’s ridiculous to think that any of our products could ….” comes off as over-confident, unbecoming, and unrealistic. Instead, thank them for their input. No business is perfect; admit any faults and make it clear you’re always working to improve.

Empathize and engage. Be sincere; show that you’re genuinely concerned and upset by their negative experience with your business. Explain that you can understand the frustration or disappointment expressed in their review. Step back to assess the situation from their perspective, then respond in a manner you’d appreciate.

Handle any specifics offline. If you want to entice a reviewer into giving your business a second chance by offering a gift card, special offer, or perk, handle the details with the customer directly, away from the public eye. You want to avoid setting expectations for others, leading them to believe this kind of response is a guarantee or that certain benefits are standard practice.

It is also important to remember that unhappy customers are more often inclined to write reviews than happy customers, as noted by The New York Times. To learn more about ReviewInc’s strategy for boosting positive reviews and effectively responding to negative ones, set up a demo today.