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“Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times and you discover they aren’t so tough at all.” - Malcolm Gladwell, David & Goliath

October 11, 2017

A Step-by-Step Guide to Dealing with Negative Online Reviews

Negative Online Review Woman

Love them or hate them, online reviews are here to stay. Whether it’s through a social media network like Facebook or Google My Business, a review site like Yelp or Trip Advisor or a product review on Amazon, online reviews play a big role in dictating whether or not a customer purchases a product or service. In fact, a local consumer review survey conducted by BrightLocal in 2016 found that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

What does this mean for your business? It means that you’ll have to start paying attention not only to the reviews you can control (eg. on your own website) but also the reviews you can’t (eg. everywhere else). In order to help you manage negative reviews, I’ve put together this quick step-by-step guide. It’s not only how I handle my own online reviews, but also the reviews of several of my social media clients.

Step 1: Gain Access to All Sources of Online Reviews

This is a crucial first step in ensuring you’re able to easily keep track of all the places a customer could leave a review. I mentioned a few of the larger places above (Facebook, Google My Business, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Amazon etc.) but depending on your business there could be several others you may want to keep an eye on. Most of these review websites allow businesses to register an account to read and respond to all reviews pertaining to their company and it’s almost always free. The great thing about these review sites is that once you’ve registered an account, you can signup to receive notifications directly to your email anytime a review is shared.

See: How to Setup a Google My Business Account

Step 2: Read Customer Review(s) Thoroughly

This is a step that I find many businesses often skip. In order to properly respond to a review with a sincere and personalized message, you want to completely understand the pain point the customer has in their negative review of your business.

Is this something that was handled online or in-person? Was one of your employees specifically named in the review? If so, can you reach out to the employee for additional information? If the complaint was regarding an online purchase or website “bug” contact your digital team for more information. Once you’ve collected all the information you can regarding the complaint, then you’re ready to respond.

Step 3: Respond to Review with Personalized Message in a Timely Fashion

Now that you’ve collected as much information as you can regarding the review, you’re ready to respond. Be sure to respond to the review as quickly as possible (no longer than 3-5 business days). Respond to the person by name and describe their complaint directly. Here’s a good example of a response to a negative review:

“Hi, John, Crystal here from the XYZ Company customer support team. I’m sorry to hear you had problems purchasing our ZOOMwear product online. I’ve spoken to our development team and they’ve corrected the issue. Please try again and feel free to contact me at crystal@xyzcompany.com if you have any additional issues. Thanks!”

Step 4: Keep an Eye on the Review for a Second Response from Customer

In most cases, the reviewer will then contact you directly but if by chance they do respond within the review itself, you’ll want to respond again. If the reviewer continues to claim the issue persists, I highly recommend providing them with a phone number in order to try to solve the issue as quickly as possible by phone. If a phone number isn’t available, provide your support team email address again.

Step 5: Resolve Issue with Refund or Discount if Necessary

Everyone has heard the old cliche, “The customer is always right!” so at the end of the day, you’ll want to do whatever you can to ensure the customer has had a positive experience with your business. If the customer feels like they’ve been ripped off, slighted or deceived in any way, offer them your sincerest apologies and a refund or discount to try keep them a customer.

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