The Dos & Don’ts of Handling Negative Reviews

How to handle negative review

While a large corporation can absorb the damage of a handful of negative reviews, for startups and small businesses, negative reviews can often seriously harm your reputation.

By dealing with bad reviews in the right way, you will show that you care about customer service, and take feedback on board to improve your business as a whole.

To help you handle bad reviews and get the best possible result, here are the dos and don’ts of handling negative reviews;

DO Acknowledge the issue and apologise

This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many businesses fail to acknowledge an issue and apologise. Before offering solutions or getting into the details of the issue, show that you understand how the reviewer is feeling and apologise.

By doing so, you’ll demonstrate to the customer in question (as well as anyone else reading the review) that you care about your customers.

For startups and small businesses, this can be a powerful way to connect with customers and build strong, long-lasting relationships.

DO Be Authentic

It’s no good cutting and pasting the same response to every negative review, as this will make you come across as insincere.

Take the time to carefully read the review to understand why the customer is complaining. Address the person by name, and show that you understand their problem.

80% of consumers believe that a business cares more about them when its management responds to their reviews[1]. This is particularly good for startups as it’s likely the person responding to negative/all reviews is the business owner.

DO Try and take the discussion offline

After offering a sincere and authentic apology, offer to take the discussion offline. Email or phone is ideal for this. By removing the discussion from a public forum, you show intent to resolve the issue and that you are taking things seriously.

Speaking one on one with the reviewer, either by email, phone or in person allows you to connect with them on a personal level, which can contribute to resolving the problem.

Taking the issue offline also allows you to get into the details of what went wrong, without publishing it to anyone else reading your reviews.

DO Review what happened

It’s imperative that you get to the bottom of the problem. With a business that’s in its infancy, negative reviews can give you valuable, early warnings into processes that may not be working as they should.

This may be a fault with a product, a customer service issue, or something else. Whatever the negative review is about, nipping these issues in the bud from the outset can set up your business for success in the long run.

Negative reviews can be a blessing in disguise in some ways, as they offer valuable insight into how to improve your business.

DON’T Get too dejected

For startups, negative reviews can really damage your confidence, but it’s important to try and see them as opportunities to improve rather than a scathing examination of your business.

Every organisation receives negative reviews, but the way you handle them can determine what sort of effect they will have on your business.

DON’T Ignore it

Ignoring bad reviews is a surefire way to make your business look like it doesn’t care about customer service.

The longer a negative review goes unanswered, the more frustrated the customer is going to get, and more people will see a customer having an issue and the business not responding, not something a growing business wants to be known for.

Nearly half (45%) of consumers say they’re more likely to visit a business if it responds to negative reviews[1]. So, even if you can’t resolve an issue straight away, offer a sincere apology and convey to the customer that you will look into the issue and make things right.

By tackling reviews head on, you show that you’re determined to ensure your customers have the best experience.

DON’T Get defensive

Getting defensive or argumentative with a reviewer will never end well. It’s essential that you remain polite and professional at all times, just as you would in person.

It can be natural to feel angry when someone gives unfair criticism to your business, but coming across as someone who refuses to take criticism is not a good image.

DON’T Get drawn into an online battle

Sometimes people will complain for the sake of complaining. In this case, you may be tempted to engage and argue with them, but this will only bring you down to their level.

Instead, offer to take the discussion offline and provide some contact information. This shows that you are keen to resolve the issue and have offered the customer a way to communicate directly with you instead of getting into details online.

If the reviewer doesn’t wish to engage with you offline, at least you have shown to other potential customers that you have been reasonable in trying to resolve the issue offline. In this case you may have to accept the negative review and move on.

DON’T Group all negative reviews together

It’s important to distinguish between different types of negative reviews. One off manufacturing defects or an incorrect item being sent in the post can be easily fixed by sending a replacement.

Moreover, if you see recurring issues with a product or service, this is an issue that needs addressing in order to avoid future negative reviews.

To conclude, negative reviews may seem like the end of the world for startups and small businesses, but they can actually be the best way of discovering underlying issues.

By engaging with those customers who provide negative feedback and doing what you can to resolve their issue, you can turn negative reviews into positive ones, and even turn disgruntled customers into ambassadors for your business.

About the author

This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Ross Kynoch, Head of Customer Services for MINDBODY – the leading technology platform for the wellness industry – where he ensures that at every touch point MINDBODY are as effective as possible in delivering a great customer experience.

  1. 2018 ReviewTrackers Online Reviews Survey. https://www.reviewtrackers.com/reports/online-reviews-survey/

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