How Should You Respond to Negative Customer Reviews?

You Have a Bad Review, Now What?


Getting a bad review or rating now and then is inevitable. Having a bad one show up at the top of search results for your business is a nightmare!  They impact your reputation, your bottom line and your ability to attract new prospects. Even the best products, accompanied by the best customer service, will have a negative online review at some point.

That’s why business owners should never underestimate how the power of their online reputation influences consumer behavior.  According to Edelman Trust Barometer, 65% of internet users view it as the most trusted source of information regarding people and businesses.  A single top ranking unfavorable review or rating can cost thousands in revenue.

Removing negative reviews can be extremely difficult, if not impossible.  But there are things you can do to lessen their impact and lower their ranking:

How To Lessen the Impact of High Ranking Negative Reviews

  1. Respond quickly
  2. Publicize good news effectively to move negative reviews lower in search results. Consider a press release publicly announcing any recent achievements, improvements, expansions, awards, or community involvement that shines a spotlight on your company.
  3. Collect more positive reviews to boost ratings and drown out the negative one, because new negative reviews and ratings will sit at the top of your page until more are posted.

Tips for Responding to Negative Online Reviews

1. Determine who will be accountable for managing negative reviews.  If you’re not doing it yourself, decide who you can trust to provide a prompt and empathetic response online and even directly to dissatisfied customers, if possible. This person must provide a sincere apology for the customer’s negative experience without being combative or aggressive.

2. Review the rules of responding to negative customer reviews for the review sites that matter most. Depending on what industry you’re in, there are likely going to be review sites that your customers use most often.  Become acquainted with their guidelines regarding how you can be notified of – and respond to – those reviews.  For example: Google allows you to respond to reviews from your Google My Business account with just a few clicks.

3. Separate personal feelings from business activities. Some negative reviews can help expose things that need improvement, but there will also be times when a negative review is posted by someone who is just having a bad day.  It can feel personal because you are emotionally and financially invested in your business, but it’s important that you keep your personal emotions separate from how you handle your business.

4. Know how to respond.  If you notice a pattern of displeasure, responses should:

  • Be short and to the point;
  • Customized to address the specific issue;
  • Provide an apology for the undesirable experience;
  • Provide a resolution.

Actively monitoring and responding to positive and negatives reviews is an important part of building and maintaining a positive online reputation to ensure that new customers will pick your business over your competition.

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