negative reviews online

Do’s & Don’ts for Handling Negative Reviews Online

There’s no denying it: online reviews matter. Not only do they improve your local SEO ranking on Google, but more importantly, they impact real business outcomes and the decisions that potential customers make.

We’ll let the numbers do the talking…

  • 90% of customers read reviews before buying a product
  • 94% of consumers have avoided a company due to a bad review
  • 80% of shoppers use mobile phones to look up reviews outside of a store

Yup, it’s pretty safe to say that online reviews are now some of the most powerful and valuable tools in the sales landscape. But that doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing…

Bad reviews happen to every business, no matter how excellent your product or service is. It all boils down to how you handle them that can make or break your online reputation. Just as good reviews can generate new business opportunities, bad reviews can also send potential customers running in the opposite direction.

With all of this in mind, here are some of our top “Do’s and Don’ts” for handling negative customer reviews online. 

negative and positive reviews

DO’S for handling negative reviews

DO respond quickly

Time is of the essence here. People who leave negative reviews usually leave them fairly quickly after their experience has occurred, and they typically expect a fast response back. By doing so, it shows the customer you care about what they have to say, and also limits the damage done online.

Monitoring your online presence is the best way to stay on top of all reviews consistently and ensure nothing slips through the cracks. Even better, you can set up alerts to inform you every time you receive a new review on your website or social platforms.

DO answer honestly and thoughtfully 

Transparency goes a long way. Sometimes mistakes happen in businesses, and customers would far appreciate an honest, heartfelt response to a genuine mistake, rather than a defensive excuse, trying to cover up and shift the blame.

DO give a custom response

People can spot a “copy paste” response a mile away. You know the ones: “Hi, we appreciate your feedback. Please contact our support team for further assistance.” Customers want to be heard, so it’s only fair to give them the attention they deserve by tailoring your response to their unique concerns. More human, less bot.

DO take it offline if need be

Aim to move the communication offline as soon as possible, especially when it comes to complex issues. However, don’t request that the customer reach out to you. After all, they have already gone through the effort of posting the review, so they certainly will not want to take an unnecessary extra step repeating the same information. Instead, request their contact information and get your customer support team to get in touch to discuss the matter further.

DO be sincere and appreciative

All feedback is useful and critical, and even more so when it’s negative. Many customers don’t complain, they simply don’t return after a bad experience. Therefore, it’s important to be appreciative and thank customers for bringing a negative experience to your attention, because without this knowledge, you aren’t able to rectify possible issues in your business and improve imperfections that will keep customers back.

Showing the customer your willingness to see things their way can make a big difference in their perception of you and acts as a great display of business ethics to potential customers.

DO make it right 

Sometimes, an apology just isn’t enough. By going the extra mile to compensate an unhappy customer, you will make a big impact and possibly turn them into a brand advocate.

Offer a refund if the customer deserves it, or consider gifting a free service or product to make up for the last one. This ensures that: 1) that the customer actually does return (who could resist a freebie or discount?) and 2) you are given a second chance to make the situation right. As an added bonus, this can even result in the negative review being taken down or turning into a positive review.

thumbs down

DON’TS for handling negative reviews

DON’T get personal or defensive 

It’s natural to get mad when someone criticizes your business, especially if you feel the complaint is unwarranted. However, never attack or retaliate – it can only do more harm to your business’s online reputation and may even possibly spiral into a viral nightmare.

Yes, some reviews are just downright nasty. Regardless, always remain completely professional and remember there’s so much more to lose for businesses that don’t act respectfully, because you’ll end up alienating more potential customers. Respond in a calm and polite manner, no matter how out of line the angry customer is.

DON’T ignore it 

Ah, the ostrich effect. By disregarding negative reviews, it shows that you aren’t concerned about your reputation or customer satisfaction and that situations like these aren’t all that uncommon for your business. Plus, when there’s no response, some readers might conclude that the customer’s comments are accurate. There’s simply no getting around it: you must respond to all reviews – the good, the bad and the ugly.

DON’T cover up negative reviews with positive ones

If there are a bunch of fake-sounding positive views (written by all your aunties and cousins) all posted within the same time period and scattered between genuinely negative ones, odds are that customers reading these will know what’s up.

Fake or misleading reviews

Sometimes it’s the competition, sometimes it’s a former disgruntled employee, and sometimes it’s just a bored troll. The unfortunate news is that fake, unjustified or misleading reviews happen. The good news is that these are against most terms of service agreements and can be reported on the relevant platform you’re using. You can also publicly respond to the review that you have no record of the alleged exchange.

mobile online reviews

The biggest “DO” of all

No one likes to receive criticism through negative online reviews, but it comes with the territory of living in the digital age. The biggest “do” of all is to use them as a learning experience. You can win over unhappy customers through genuine responses, and show potential customers that you truly do care about customer experience. Above all, use the negative feedback received to improve your services and products to provide an even better business experience. Think of it as free market research. This, in turn, will help you accumulate more positive reviews.

Ready to tackle those negative reviews and a digital marketing strategy that works for your business? As an Online Marketing Business, we are here to help you take your brand to new heights. Contact our team today!

Originally posted 2022-08-04 11:23:45.

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