Businesses sometimes, hopefully rarely, receive negative feedback online. Luckily, you can use this as an opportunity to make yourself stand out in a positive light because of your response. Understandably, business owners have many emotions tied to the reviews they receive about their business. You’re passionate about your business, you work hard and you try your best. Don’t be too upset if you get some negative feedback, though. It’s important to remember that every business has those one-offs where things don’t quite go as planned. And sometimes you might run into those customers who are just impossible to please. Understanding how to respond to negative feedback, professionally, will help your business.

What are the important things to remember when responding to negative feedback online?

  • Everyone sees your response: Anything you write in response to a review online is public. Not just your reviewer will see it, but all of your current and potential customers will, too.  Your business will be judged on your professionalism and how you respond to reviews from customers.
  • Keep it Professional: As previously mentioned, lots of emotions are tied to people responding negatively to your business. However, your response should be kept 100% professional in order to keep your business name in a positive light. You never want to use poor language, get angry or fight back when it comes to responding to your customers.
  • Postpone the Conversation: Your response online shouldn’t be long-winded and full of facts. It’s all public and not everyone needs to know the details of your conversation. Invite your customer to email or call you so that you can resolve their issue in private, while still showing that public that you’re trying to make things right.

How to respond to negative online reviews:

  • Address Them by Name: Show that you know your customers personally by using their name to start your response. Instead of just saying, “We’re sorry to hear about this.” Try starting your response by saying, “Hi Jennifer! Thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback.”
  • Let them know that you’re sorry things happened the way they did and that you don’t usually run your business that way (tweak this part based on their complaint). For example, “Hi Jennifer! Thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback. We are sorry that it’s under these circumstances, but we’d like to make things right and prove ourselves to you.”
  • If your customer is complaining about something silly, or something that really can’t/don’t need to be “made right”, try offering a response like this, “Hi Jennifer! Thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback. We’re sorry to hear that you weren’t pleased with our service. We are always upfront about our costs before starting any job and you were no exception to this. Please let us know if we can help you again in the future!” Keep it light and to the point. When people leave you reviews that are “fake” negative reviews (i.e: they never worked with you and are maybe a competitor), be sure to write that in your response. Saying something like, “Hi Jennifer! We don’t have any record of working with you. Is there a different name we could look up your account under?” The truth is, you can be professional and also not be bullied online by reviews. Be sure to stand up for yourself and your business, but keep it friendly.
  • Leave them with a way to contact you privately: Again, you don’t want your whole conversation posted for everyone to see. It’s best to leave your unhappy customer with a phone number or email address to contact you, so that others see that you helped them, and you can take the conversation offline.

Negative reviews are never fun, but your response as the business owner makes all the difference in your online reputation. Leave your business in good standing with your unhappy customer and any potential customers by offering a friendly and honest response!

For more insights on marketing strategy that actually works for small business, connect with Jay Bean, Founder of FreshLime and Small Business Marketing Expert on LinkedIn and Twitter. If any of these tips have helped you or if you have anything to add, please comment below. We’d love to hear from you!


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