So, your business got a bad online review and you’re thinking, “Now what?” While it may the first time your brand’s reputation takes a potential hit based on a negative post, it may not be the last. Online reviews sites like Yelp, Google, and all things social media grant consumers an effective way to share their experiences with the world – and they are wielding their power accordingly. A 2016 study conducted by BrightLocal, a search and research firm, showed that 92% of people read online reviews before making a purchasing decision. More importantly, the same study showed that 88% of those reading online reviews trust them just as much as they do their friends’ recommendations; all undeniable proof that what people say about you online doesn’t just tarnish your reputation, it can also cost you money.
Do you need to respond to an online review? In a word – yes. A study conducted by ReviewTrackers found that 52% of customers expect a response from a brand within a week of posting an online review. Also, a whopping 78% of consumers in the same survey noted that seeing a response to an online review from management made them believe that the company in question cares about its customer base. Successfully tracking and answering all reviews (the good and the bad) can play a critical role in managing customer satisfaction and safeguarding your online brand reputation.
Don’t run away from any online bad press; view negative reviews as an opportunity to do good business and make amends with a disgruntled patron. Consider these tips when drafting your response:
This truly is the golden rule when replying to negative comments. Some business owners fueled with varying levels of anger at a poor online comment, make the mistake of an instant response…and instantly regret it. A terse, indignant reply may feel momentarily gratifying, but it can fan the flames of negativity, both with the original writer as well as everyone else who reads it online. Don’t take it personally. Don’t get defensive. Instead, wait until the initial rush of rage subsides and you’re able to craft a professional and constructive reply.
A verbose response is a proven way to lose your audience quickly. Keep it short and sweet by only addressing the most relevant points in your answer to the disgruntled patron.
Never copy and paste your previous responses to unsatisfied customers to other bad reviews. Canned responses immediately make your brand seem uncaring and out of touch. Every reply received from your business should be personalized to the individual.
Don’t waste time playing the blame game in your reply. If a customer has a viable complaint, don’t make excuses…take ownership. If it was, in fact, your fault, admit it. Not only will your admission resonate with the person who wrote the bad review, it will also demonstrate honesty and integrity to anyone else reading your commentary – all great ways to reinforce your brand image.
Once you’ve composed your comment, it may be worth getting a fresh set of eyes on the content. Ask a trusted, neutral party to read what you’ve written to determine that it addresses everything relevant and strikes an even, professional tone.
Yes, really. You may struggle with mustering up a little gratitude towards the customer that wrote a disparaging review. But, honest, constructive criticism provides an excellent opportunity for your brand to do better…and that’s reason enough for a thank you.
Once you’ve appropriately addressed a bad review, learn from the experience, and move on. Let every negative review be a brutally honest lesson in what not to do next time. Change your process as needed and conduct business to the best of your ability to ensure you’re vigilantly protecting your online brand reputation from subsequent bad reviews.