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How to Respond to Negative Reviews of Your Business

Mar 12, 2021

As a business, you’re going to encounter some negative online reviews every now and then. Don’t worry! It isn’t the end of the world to get a negative review. In fact, responding to bad reviews can be an opportunity for you to showcase your customer service skills and maintain your online reputation.

  • Why Do Negative Reviews Matter?
  • How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Why Do Negative Reviews Matter?

Google looks for a variety of reviews when determining local search ranking. Of course, you want more positive reviews than negative reviews for your business, but having some negative reviews in the mix can actually help lend more credibility to the positive reviews. After all, if there are only positive reviews, it may be viewed as spam, manipulated reviews, or fabricated reviews by search engines and customers alike.

Despite what you may think, it’s not as easy to skew reviews as it once was, meaning it’s harder for both businesses and disgruntled customers to “game the system.” Google has made efforts to make reviews more reliable by no longer allowing anonymous reviews. In addition, the search engine is more skeptical of overly positive reviews, overly negative reviews, and the frequency of new reviews coming in.

As long as your business reviews are from legitimate customers, and you have a good ratio of positive reviews to negative reviews, then negative reviews most likely won’t hurt you. That is, unless you ignore them.

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

While it may seem like you already lost the business of someone who leaves a one or two-star review, that doesn’t mean the reviewer should be ignored. In fact, 30% of negative reviewers turned positive after the businesses they reviewed responded to them. This is why it’s important to respond to negative reviews. Below are some more tips for responding to negative reviews and maintaining good customer service.

Stay Calm

Don’t write an angry response in the moment that can damage your online reputation. Customers don’t want to see you react emotionally, blame others, or play the victim. They want to know that they matter to you and that you take their concerns seriously. So take a step back until you can respond with a level head.

Talk Directly to the Reviewer

When responding to the reviewer, make sure they feel heard, not advertised to. Respond directly to their original review so that they can see your reply. And at the beginning of your response, use the reviewer’s name (if they’ve provided it) and address the specific issue brought up in their review.

Take Responsibility

It doesn’t matter who’s at fault when a negative review pops up—businesses should always apologize. It’s unlikely you’re going to convince a disgruntled customer that they’re wrong, and it’s unprofessional to fight with customers online. Take responsibility for the problem the customer brought up without excuses. Show them that you care about listening to their concerns and solving the issue as best you can.

Offer a Solution

When working through an issue with a customer, try to provide helpful solutions for them. Maybe it’s offering free or discounted products, or letting the customer know that you’ve addressed the problem with your staff to avoid future incidences. Even saying something along the lines of “Send me a message so we can make this right” at the end of your response gives you and the customer an opportunity to find resolution.

Thank the Customer

No matter the nature of a review, feedback is always a good thing. Thank reviewers for taking the time to let you know where you can improve—even if it’s an unfair business review that complains about things beyond your control. Do what you can to ensure the reviewer feels their concern is being addressed and that you look forward to providing a better experience the next time they visit your store or work with you.

Take It Offline

After your response to the original review, move the rest of the interaction with the customer offline, or at least off the review page. This is good practice for several reasons—maybe the customer still isn’t satisfied with your response and wants to blast your business, or maybe you’re offering an exclusive deal to win them back. No matter what, stay positive and try your best to fix the situation. Also, keep in mind that just because you aren’t on the review page anymore doesn’t mean you can say whatever you want. The customer can post photos of the conversation to share your outstanding customer service…or otherwise.

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