Among the worst nightmares of businesses everywhere are negative reviews. Surveys show that people decide if they will avail of a business’ services or not with only four reviews. Bad customer reviews can be a bad look to the company, especially if you’re a fledgling team.
It happens to everyone, and as long as you don’t have to fight a protracted legal battle, you can recover from it. Don’t let negative reviews discourage you from doing your business and affect your online reputation. In the same vein, you want to learn from this bad review and get something out of it.
Here’s how you deal with a negative review online and control any potential damage it can do to your reputation.
First Things First: You’re Not A Bad Business
Let’s settle this detail first: if you know you’re doing your business right, you’re not a bad business. Most entrepreneurs try their best to make sure they provide the best service that they can. Even after all the things they try, they still experience bad reviews out of specific situations.
Not all customers are easy to please. Some will cooperate with you to the best that they can, and those are good times. Some customers, for whatever reason, will also be more difficult than others. You can’t please everyone, so an occasional negative review should not bring you down.
As your business grows, you can expect that you will see more and more people with negative experiences with your products and services. For every 100 customers that you get, you’ll likely get as much as five customers with negative reviews. At this rate, you should be doing good!
At 1000 reviews, you’ll only get 50 negative reviews. What makes negative reviews more tolerable, however, is they don’t grow linear. As you gain more business, bad reviews are unlikely to grow bigger.
Most businesses that grow bigger tend to find the right formula for their business. The usual case is an entrepreneur will rectify the biggest weakness of their products and services. It’s hard to grow a customer base without improving on anything.
With the right improvements to the enterprise, you can get over the bad reviews. There are four takeaways when it comes to framing a bad online review.
Some Businesses Don’t Fit Some Customer Needs
Some businesses are not a good fit for the needs of the customer. Some small businesses don’t cover some areas that a potential customer needs. When this happens, it’s ok.
You should not be great for all types of customer. Why?
Being a generalist business means you’re doing everything, but you don’t have a specific niche. You want to be great for a specific area where you know you can provide your expertise.
Good Customers Giving Negative Online Reviews
In some situations, good customers who frequent your business can give you a bad review. Why? If they liked your products and services before, there is a potential issue they found somewhere. These customers are people you nurture instead of despise.
A bad review with a legitimate complaint means a customer cares about the value of your service. Most customers don’t even bother to leave a review. They will walk away without saying a thing and never come back.
If a customer behaved well and gave out a rational, well-thought-out 1-star review, take that into your next business meeting. Discuss it with your team and see what changes you can bring that can resolve this problem.
Some Customers Have A Bad Mood
Most of the time, people do something irrational when they are angry or in a bad mood. These actions include sending a bad review your way. When this happens, the best course of action is to put yourself in the shoes of the customer. Discuss it with them in reply to their review.
Some customers will admit that they were in the wrong and will rescind their bad online review. Others will stand by it. Once this happens, all you need to do is to stay as diplomatic as possible.
Some Customers Are Jerks
Some customers are outright jerks. There is almost nothing you can do to prevent them from giving you a negative online review. You know these types.
These are the customers who attack people, not problems. They argue even if they know they’re wrong. They provide non-constructive, irrational feedback that has nothing to do with their issue.
Responding to these types of reviews, fortunately, should be the easiest.
Bad Business Reviews Mean Responsibility
Getting one to three star reviews are bad, but it also entails a certain level of responsibility on your end. A bad online review does not mean it’s as simple as a disgruntled customer. There are a few questions that you want to ask once you get a negative review.
- What happened?
- What situation led to the bad review?
- Is there a product or service the review is talking about?
- What are the problems mentioned by the review?
- Is it a problem with the employees?
- Is it a problem with the procedures?
You can only know the problem if you read the reviews, so it’s best to read the reviews you get. If you’re a person who has no time to read the reviews, the next best thing is to hire a digital marketing agency. Most digital marketing teams offer a reputation management service specifically to work on these situations.
If you pinpoint the specific problem the customer, find out if it’s a problem from your side. If it’s an isolated situation, try to break down what specific issues led to the problem. Resolve the issue from your side, especially if it’s a small misunderstanding.
If the problem is from the customer side, the best course of action is to clarify the situation. Any inadvertent situation should receive clarification through a reply on the review.
Responding To Negative Reviews
So, how do you respond to a negative review? A review response to something negative is a multi-step process that you need to discuss with the people involved. Within the team, there is a 5R process for responding to reviews.
Each of these provides a multi-step process into making sure the negative online review goes to a positive conclusion for you.
1. Research the Cause of The Problem
The number one step in working out a bad review is to research. Find out the exact circumstances why the customer is unhappy. See if you can talk to any of your colleagues on what happened that pushed the customer to get angry.
Take hints from the complaint on what the customers are trying to communicate. Pay attention to what’s the purpose of the review. If there is a specific time that your colleagues remember what happened, ask them to tell the whole story.
Look for receipts on the products and services the customer availed from your side. See if there’s a specific CCTV video that can show you the entire context of the incident. The more evidence that you have that accurately informs you everything you need to know.
Once you have enough knowledge, this is where you start formulating the appropriate response.
2. Show Regret and Apologise.
Whether the customer is right or wrong, it is always important to express regret to the customer. Apologise that they had a bad experience with your products or services. You’re both human, so either of you is bound to mess up.
Any mistakes, missteps, or mishaps need to undergo processing with a cool head. Walk it off, expunge any ill feelings in your chest, and try to reach out. Don’t lash out and don’t act petty, as it can ruin any reputation you still have.
Tell them you’re sorry and that you’re looking to give them as good an experience as possible. If it’s your fault, talk to them and reinforce your company’s dedication to the service ASAP. You can promise a bit of extra service on the side, with a promise of correcting the problem.
Get them on call as much as you can. People are more responsive if businesses do genuine outreach. The entire process changes if you are not at fault.
If the evidence says you’re not at fault, apologise but stand firm. Don’t offer anything that your customer can abuse, especially if evidence points out to them doing it in bad faith.
3. React To The Review Through Short Term Solutions
Reacting to a negative review means improving on the business. You would want to address the issues that resulted in the issue first.
If the problem is grave enough that it needs immediate attention, plan out the steps you need to do. Solve the problem and inform your people about the changes that you want to happen. Ask for any ideas to make sure the issue doesn’t happen again.
Once you find out which areas of the business need improvement, weigh the outcomes and apply solutions. What’s important is your business learns from the entire experience.
4. Respond To The Review ASAP
Always respond to any negative review professionally. While engaging positive reviews means showing a positive attitude, engaging negative reviews means professionalism.
If you can answer within the first 24 hours of the review. If you can, it’s best to answer within an hour of seeing the review. Say you’re sorry and inform them how unusual their entire experience is. Offer a special deal or a discount to make it up to them.
If the entire experience is not your fault, apologise and inform them that you did your best. Specify that you’re sorry you can’t provide the service they ask for and that they are welcome to visit again. Use special deals or discounts for negative reviews only when you know your side is in the wrong.
Tell the customer that you’re listening and you’re looking to improve the service further. If, in any case, that the customer’s review is baseless, use evidence to your advantage. Be civil and stay civil.
5. Reorganise Your Process Long-Term
Once you correct the issue, follow up with the customer and encourage them to visit. If you have corrected the issue, encourage the reviewer to change their review to reflect any improvements.
If the review is abusive, false or offers no reason why they gave a bad review, ask the platform to expunge it. Google, Yelp, and even Facebook offer ways to remove abusive reviews. While it’s hard, it is possible.
A Negative Review Is Not The End
Negative reviews can influence your business and swing it to a bad place. Its hit on your reputation can be substantial, and it can be a problem. It does not mean it’s the end for your business, however. Giving out the negative reaction is the straw that can break the camel’s back.
Take failure in stride and do logical corrections that account for these negative reviews. You can’t provide five-star experiences to every customer, but you should always strive for it. A few bad experiences are inevitable, but take them as a way to learn, improve, and develop.