Why You Should Embrace Negative Reviews
We live in an age of increasingly impersonal transactions. You can ring up your groceries, order and pay for your meals and update your wardrobe, all without ever having to speak to another human being. As a result, when customers want to know more about a product, service, or company they often turn to advice from other customers in the form of reviews.
This can be a great benefit for a business. Especially if you’re working on increasing your ranking through search engine optimization, as Google uses some review platforms to help assign priority in search results. It’s basically (mostly) free advertising. And because customers trust other customers, positive reviews are often even more effective than intentional advertising. But what about the negative reviews?
Handling the Dreaded Negative Review
Negative reviews are going to happen. Even if you do everything in your power to provide flawless products and services, someone isn’t going to like it and they’re going to say something about it.
What Not to Do
Receiving a bad review is never a good feeling, and your first instinct will likely be to remove or ignore the review. Resist the urge! These are both terrible ideas, for several reasons.
- 100% positive reviews (especially if they’re all 5 star) simply doesn’t look genuine, leading potential customers to think you have something to hide; which you do.
- Removing the review will not silence the customer. They will continue to spread awareness of their displeasure by word of mouth in person and on social media; both of which you have zero control over.
- Ignoring negative reviews gives the impression that you don’t care about your customers’ experiences. It also robs you of a great opportunity to turn a negative review into a positive customer service experience.
If (or rather, when) you get a bad review, always respond. Even if the reviewer is in the wrong, respond. No matter what, it is vital that you respond, and respond the right way.
Craft Responsible Responses
Any response to a negative review is better than no response at all; but there is a right and a wrong way to respond. Above all, avoid getting defensive. The goal of your response isn’t to clear your name. The goal of your response is to make the unhappy customer feel understood and supported. The following guidelines will help you craft a responsible response:
Respond Swiftly – The ideal time frame to respond to a negative review is within 48 hours. A quick response shows that the experiences of your customers, both good and bad, are a high priority for you.
Respond Graciously – Thank the reviewer for bringing their negative experience to your attention, but resist the urge to launch a defense. Simply let them know that you hear their concerns and offer a solution (such as a refund or discount on a future purchase) and/or invite them to reach out to you directly to discuss how to prevent experiences like theirs in from occurring again.
Respond Openly – Resist the urge to quietly reach out to the reviewer by email or direct message. You can invite the reviewer to further discuss their concerns in private in your response, but the initial response should be issued publically, on the platform the customer used to post the negative review. They chose the platform they chose for a reason. Respect their wishes by engaging with them on the same platform.
Well-Handled Negative Review > Positive Review
When properly addressed, negative reviews have the potential to build very strong customer relationships. No business functions 100% perfectly 100% of the time. If you follow the guidelines above, you will build trust and increase the likelihood that the reviewer will choose your company in the future.