Responding to negative reviews
Bad reviews are part of running a business. In fact, it’s something you can use to engage one-on-one, allowing you to build relationships with your customers. However, they are public. When replying, keep the following guidelines in mind:
- Be nice and don’t get personal. This isn’t just a guideline—it’s also a good idea as a business owner. It’s difficult to win an argument with a frustrated customer, and you want to avoid burning bridges. Keep your responses useful, readable, and courteous.
- Keep it short and sweet. Users are looking for useful and genuine responses, but they can easily be overwhelmed by a long response.
- Thank your reviewers. Respond to happy reviewers when you have new or relevant information to share. You don’t need to thank every reviewer publicly, since each response reaches lots of customers.
- Be a friend, not a salesperson. Your reviewers are already customers, so there’s no need to offer incentives or advertisements. Tell reviewers something new about your business, or share something they might not have learned from their first visit.
Negative reviews are not necessarily a sign of bad business practices. For example, the customer may have had mismatched expectations. Replying to reviews can help identify points on how to improve the experience for customers.
- Do not share personal data of the reviewer or attack them personally – either digitally, or in the real world. Instead, suggest that they contact you personally (via Messenger, email, phone, etc.) to resolve the issue. A positive post-review interaction often leads to the customer updating the review, and shows prospective customers that you really care.
- Investigate the reasons behind the reviewer’s negative impression of the business. Check your records for the reviewer and their experience with your business.
- Be honest about mistakes that were made, but do not take responsibility for things that weren’t your fault. Explain what you can and cannot do in the situation. Show how you can make uncontrollable issues actionable (e.g. bad weather made you cancel an event, but you’ll monitor the weather and provide advance cancellation warnings).
- Apologise when appropriate. It’s best to say something that demonstrates compassion and empathy.
- Show that you’re a real person by signing off with your name or initials. This helps you come across as more authentic.
- Never lash out. Never get personal. Always be polite and professional, just as you would be face-to-face.
- Respond in a timely manner to show that you pay attention to your customer’s experience.