There’s no shortage of sites and experts weighing in on the best practices for responding to online reviews. However, it’s been one of the most asked questions we have had recently, so we wanted to throw our voice in the mix.
We know how frustrating it is to get negative feedback attached to your business online, especially if the review is unwarranted or, worse, false. Your company has longevity and created a hard-earned reputation of trustworthiness, yet a few people can make a big impact on how others, including prospective customers, judge the quality of your business.
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That’s why it’s completely understandable for a business owner to be outraged when someone leaves a negative review. The instinct might be to respond in kind. DO NOT DO THAT. Responding negatively to a negative review only hurts the business, not the reviewer. Click to Tweet. Here’s what to do instead - BACK UP.
Break down the data. Negative reviews, it turns out, might not be as detrimental to your business as you might think. On average, 19% of reviews a business receives are negative. What’s more interesting is that businesses whose reviews are in that range actually average 13% MORE revenue than businesses who have a smaller percentage of negative reviews. You can also take comfort in knowing that 85% of readers consider reviews older than three months to be irrelevant. Time heals all wounds.
Ask for input. Talk with your digital marketing specialist about the situation. Let them read the review and explain your side of the story. This is where you can safely vent your frustrations without damaging your business. Your digital marketing person can offer valuable perspective and help you formulate a response plan and timeline.
Craft a response. Make sure to address the reviewer, apologize as necessary, and direct them to take next steps offline. Here’s a sample review template from reviewtrackers:
Dear [NAME OF REVIEWER], thanks for sharing your feedback. We’re sorry your experience didn’t match your expectations. It was an uncommon instance and we’ll do better in the future.
Please feel free to reach out to [INSERT SPECIFIC CONTACT INFORMATION] with any further comments, concerns, or suggestions you wish to share. We would love to work with you to see how we can make things right.
Kill ‘em with respect. We can’t stress this enough - no matter what untruths may have been shared, how unfair you feel the review is, or how rude the reviewer was, don’t lash out. People are savvy enough, thanks to reviews on Amazon and other sites, to assess if someone is being overly-harsh to a business or product and will give more weight to how the business responds when making a judgment about the company, product, or service. The most important thing you can do is to be respectful, brief, ask to take the conversation offline, and move along.
Urgency shouldn’t guide your actions. Best practice dictates reviews should be responded to within 7 days. Which means you have plenty of time to read the feedback and let the sting of the review wear off before crafting a cooler response. While you can take some time, don’t neglect to respond. Forty-five percent of consumers say they’re more likely to visit a business that responds to negative reviews, and 89% of consumers read responses to reviews.
Place energy where it belongs. Focus more of your energy on delivering on your promises and requesting positive reviews than feeling anxious or frustrated by negative reviews. Customers want to see at least 40 reviews before giving weight to a star rating, and it’s in your best interest to recruit as many of those positive reviews as possible.
It’s normal to be upset when Google, Facebook, or Yelp alerts you to a new review, and it’s negative feedback. But, negative reviews don’t hold the power you might think, provided you reply in a reasonable time frame (within a week), respectfully, and with intention to drive the interaction offline.
If you need help calming down or strategizing your digital reputation management and marketing, we are here to help.