Just like everything in life, there’s a right way and wrong way to do things. When you’re searching for the right way to respond to negative reviews, the challenge is knowing which is right and which is wrong…and when and how to take that next step.
Being savvy with responses to online reviews is an art form for which a talent not many are blessed with. When someone writes something negative about your business, the first reaction, while natural and normal, can often not be suitable for public view. You may be absolutely right in your position but that’s not going to get you where you want to go.
Managing a business’ online reputation has an important goal: to present a clear picture of your business for future customers. In absorbing what’s being said online, future customers cultivate expectations of your business. Trust develops once you deliver on (or exceed) those expectations. Duplicating or mirroring those real experiences into your online properties is no simple feat.
This week offered up two great examples demonstrating the wrong way and the right way to respond to negative reviews. It’s fairly easy to see the difference between these two responses but not so simple to know why one failed and one succeeded.
The Wrong Way to Respond to Negative Reviews
I came upon this review by way of my client. Coincidentally, we’ve been working together on strategies for their online reputation management and she’s been keenly aware of feedback – her customers and her own.
She gave this business a 3-star rating on Facebook and the business responded. Keep in mind, this exchange is public for anyone and everyone to see:
What Went Wrong?
- Clearly, the owner or responder did not stop and take a moment to think about what to say. They were reactive and it sends the exact wrong message.
- Due to the absence of a savvy, helpful response, this business has lost one and perhaps many more customers. When you respond to negative reviews, it’s not just a reply to that customer – it’s evidence for all your future customers to consider.
- The review was a not-so-bad 3 stars. 3-star reviews are most often someone who’s disappointed in your business. 3-star reviews are often remedied with simple fixes. You’re given the chance to turn a 3-star into a 5-star with your response. This business chose not to leverage that opportunity.
The Right Way to Respond to Negative Reviews
“Well, not everyone is as pleased with our spirits selection as we are and decided to leave us our first ever 1 Star Yelp review.
We know we have to take Yelp with a grain of salt and we welcome all criticisms and promise to work hard to learn and grow from them.
We tried everything we could to please this anonymous reviewer, but nothing worked. So, rather than be upset over it, we decide to embrace it and throw a party and let all of our locals benefit from it.”
Their response led to the local media running a story on the bar:
What Went Right?
- The owner reached out personally and tried to make things “right” for the reviewer. He earnestly tried to fix it. An action witnessed by all future customers.
- The business embraced their 1-star review and took things to a higher positive level. Since it was their first 1-star review, they played up that point authentically.
- By embracing the reality of a 1-star review, they were able to cleverly fold it into an awesome event filled with lots of people who will write 5-star reviews!
Nothing is black and white when it comes to negative reviews. To mitigate catastrophes, it’s ideal to employ the right person monitoring and responding. Someone with empathy, patience and emotional maturity, who is articulate and savvy when dealing with the public.
Social media and all other forms of online reputation management are a mixture of PR, marketing, advertising and data analysis. There is a right way and a wrong way to respond to negative reviews. Make sure your strategies cover all the scenarios.