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5 useful tips to handle a negative review of your business

Camille Roch
by Camille Roch
Published on 12 January, 2018
cam_roch24

finger pointing at 5 stars and giving a negative review

How small businesses should address a negative review online

It doesn’t matter whether you run a nail art salon, a dry-cleaning service or a removal service. Chances are, you’ll encounter a negative review from a disgruntled customer at some point.

If this happens to you, remember: bad reviews happen to all local service providers. Don’t let it affect you too deeply. Instead see it as an opportunity to improve your service and resolve any issue that may occur the future.

Still, you can’t ignore a bad review.

Also removing it and pretending like nothing happened won’t solve the problem.
With 88% customers reporting that they read reviews to determine the quality of a local business knowing how to respond to negative reviews is crucial for small businesses.

Here’s a how to on damage control.

1) Single out the problem

Start by identifying the problem. Is it staff-related? Is it caused by a technical issue or due to the quality/price ratio of your service?

Respond by addressing the issue the customer raised and let them know how you already taking steps to make sure this does not happen again.

Make sure you answer in a timely manner (1 or 2 day tops) and try to solve the issue there and then. You don’t want to start engaging in a never-ending argument. Take the conversation offline if you feel it’s necessary, for instance if compensation is needed.

four arrows pointing at the centre of a maze

2) Show empathy

Your answer should show some empathy. You want the customer to feel like you understand why this has caused them distress.

Apologize for how they feel and demonstrate that you genuinely want to make the customer feel better. In a lot of situations, you’ll find out most of the customers only want their complaint to be acknowledged.

Also let them know you appreciate that they took the time to report the issue as this will allow you to improve your service.

You can offer compensation if this is something you would do in real life. However know how to differentiate between a situation where a customer was simply misinformed or when you or your staff made an error.

3) Don’t be over defensive

Hearing a negative review can be painful for owners. Your business is your time, your work and reading comments from strangers publicly criticizing it can be difficult to hear.

But remember to distance yourself from the comment. It is not targeted at you, but at the experience one user had with your service on one particular occasion.

two bubble speech with unidentified symbols representing negative reviews

This means, don’t be too defensive. Acknowledge your user’s opinion without justifying yourself too much.

Also remember, there are tons of bad reviews online. Potentials leads won’t just get put off by them. But if they see you fail to respond appropriately or do not acknowledge your clients’ opinions, it might be an issue in closing a sale.

4) Be funny when replying to a negative review

Ever heard the saying “laughter is the best medicine”? Well, this also applies to a negative review. Don’t take negative reviews too seriously. Instead use some sense of humor in your answer. When used appropriately, this will help de-escalate the problem.

Also remember a good response to a bad review is often more about how you formulate it rather than what you say.

5) Take action immediately after receiving a negative review

A negative review of your business should be a red flag to identify an issue. What went wrong? At what stage? And which steps should you take to make sure this doesn’t not happen again.

list of deadlines crossed out

Determine the steps to follow for resolving the issue, document the incident, and make your team aware of the direction to adopt moving forward.

Also make sure you tackle the crisis before it happens. Check regularly relevant review sites to be sure you respond in a timely manner.

Camille Roch
Camille Roch
cam_roch24
Camille Roch is a journalist, editor and content strategist. She previously worked as a reporter and contributed to international human rights publications such as the UN or Amnesty International.
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