Reply to reviews - Short guide to answering negative reviews


In this short guide, we'll walk you through the essentials that you need to know in order to reply to reviews in a smart and respectful way.

As a business owner or employee, seeing a bad review about your business, might make you think the reviewer’s comment and low-star rating is a personal insult. You might get upset. However, taking it personally isn’t the best way to handle negative reviews. Getting upset or angry isn’t going to solve your problem: you have an unhappy customer. Not only do you have an unsatisfied customer, but you also have one who has publicly put their bad experience about your company online for the whole world to see…

Here are some tips on how to diffuse a bad online review and hopefully turn an unhappy customer into a satisfied customer who may even be willing to go online and change their bad review into a good one.

Keep Calm. Take a Breath

When you see a bad review about your company, the first thing to do is stop, take a breath and think. Don’t hastily respond to the ticked-off customer without thinking things through first. (If you need to step away from your computer and walk around the block, do that. Anything to settle your emotions down.) Never respond when you’re angry.

Now, don’t re-use the same responses over and over, having a starting point – especially if you’re upset – can help a lot. Take a canned response and customize your comment for each individual reviewer’s feedback.

You Must Respond to the Negative Reviewer

If you think you can ignore a bad review, you’re wrong. Not replying to a negative review is responding. It’s telling everyone that sees the bad review that you don’t care about your customers. Responding to complaints can help increase customer advocacy. Not replying to a bad review decreases customer advocacy.

Often a grumpy customer or guest just wants to be heard. If you show that person that you heard what they had to say and that you’re happy to resolve the issue, sometimes that’s enough to appease them. Replying to and resolving the issue quickly and in one “transaction” is important. People who receive a successful first-contact problem resolution are twice as likely to visit you again.

Responding to negative reviews also makes you stand out from your competitors. Most companies don’t pay attention to reviews – so customers (and potential customers) will remember the companies that do pay attention to what their customers think. That means they’ll remember you.

Resolve the Issue

Don’t just respond to the negative reviewer — fix the problem, too. In some cases, depending on the situation, it may mean asking the customer to contact you by phone or ask them to stop by your place so that you can discuss the issue/problem in person.

When you show you’re actively trying to fix the problem, that shows the customer (and others) that you truly want to solve the issue. With 84% of people trusting an online review as much as a personal recommendation, going the extra mile is important. Not only does fixing the issue make that customer happier, other potential customers will see how important satisfying your customers is to your business.

Get a Second Opinion

When you’re responding to good or bad reviews, it’s best to let an impartial third-party read your response to the reviewer before you post it online. Ask a friend, family member or co-worker to double check your reply for message and tone to make sure it “reads” well to a third-party.

Look at the POSITIVE in the Negative

If you get a bad review, really look at what the person wrote. Were they unhappy with a staff member? Did they have a bad experience at your location? Did your product/service not work like they expected? If you evaluate what the customer has said, you may discover bigger issues that you need to work on at your company.

When you get a bad review, take this opportunity to get insights into what your company might be doing wrong — you may discover ways to improve your business. Try to look at the positive side of a negative review.

Customer Service Is Out In The Public

More and more people are using social media and review sites to get customer service and voice their opinions. With the Internet, customers expect almost an instantaneous response. And some of these people like this very public forum – because it gets attention.

If you have a negative review, remember that everything you say to that reviewer is out in the public for all to see. That means you don’t want to do battle with that customer online. The best way to handle these attention-seeking people is to take the discussion offline. Simply let the customer know you heard them and then ask them to call you personally so you can resolve the matter. Even if the person doesn’t call you back, anyone that sees that review discussion will at least see that you tried to rectify the situation. That goes a long way to building trust with future customers.

Also, don’t engage in a one-on-one “battle” with a reviewer online. Never respond more than twice to the same customer about the same issue on a public channel.

Ask For a Do-Over

If you’ve worked closely with an unhappy customer to remedy the situation, politely ask them to update/change their review to reflect that the situation has been resolved.

Article originally published by Brightlocal:


What elements does a good response consist of? 

1. Personal salutation 

2. Repeat (acknowledge) the issue at hand 

3. Apologise for the bad experience

4. Find a solution to the problem

5. Invite the person to come back to your business for a do-over

6. End with your name and job title 

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