Marketing & SEO

5 Tips on How to Respond to Negative Customer Reviews Online

Rhonda Martinez 13 January, 2020

Violets are blue, roses are red, and negative reviews are inevitable. Their appearance doesn’t necessarily depend on your service or on the quality of a product. This is a part of a business owner’s life, and they should learn to cope with it appropriately. Sometimes respond to negative customer reviews might not seem like a big deal. Still, it is better to provide a nice, well-thought-out response to each of them.

negative customer reviews resolving

Why You Should Always Respond to Negative Customer Reviews?

When some business owners get a bad review, they try to remove it as fast as they can. According to the online customer relationship management guide, it is the strategy of a loser. If you don’t have a single negative review online, you will soon get a “too good to be true” mark. Such an attitude would soon make customers view your company as untrustworthy, while bad reviews most likely won’t cause much harm. So, do not be afraid of bad reviews. People understand that no one is perfect. Mistakes happen. They don’t want you to pretend to be someone you are not. Instead, they expect honesty and involvement from your side when things get out of control. Your response to a bad review might change the unsatisfied customer’s perception.

online client support

According to surveys, 7 out of 10 respondents changed their opinion after getting a response to their review. Plus, when potential customers see your response, they show a higher intent to purchase. When you pay great attention to a bad review rather than ignoring it, this means you listen to your customers and value them. This characteristic is in great demand today, both in private and business lives. When you respond to negative customer reviews online, you get inside the customer’s mind. Now, they are thinking about you– whether they are bad, or good thoughts. If you do everything right, bad thoughts will change to good ones and you will gain one more lifetime client. A

Below you’ll find five tips on how to build a strong comeback so the bad review works in your favor.

1. Be Grateful with Customers

Even if you think the customer isn’t right, it is important to show appreciation and gratitude. Yes, a bad review can harm your reputation at the moment. But it is something that will help you to change the customer experience for the best in the long term. So, you can write something like this:

  • “Thank you for your sincere feedback. Your opinion is important to us.” Respond to negative customer reviews frankly, but politely. You shouldn’t explain right away.

Normally, you have to investigate the situation before making any conclusions. Yet, you have to make the first step to your customer to find a solution everyone will be satisfied with. Assure the reviewer it is not typical for your business. Let them know you will find out why such a pitiful situation occurred, and that you will do everything you can to fix the mistake. According to the LegitWritingServices essay writing service review website, almost 90% of people who are interested in your business read your responses to bad reviews. Your word matters, too.

customer satisfaction marks

Examples on How to Respond to Negative Customer Reviews Online

Besides that, study the content of the bad reviews thoroughly. Many of them have positive comments, too, but are invisible due to the negativity effect. Emphasize them in your response:

  • “Dear customer,
    Thank you for finding the time to let us know about your experience. We are pleased to hear that your trip was comfortable. But we are sorry to hear you got the message about changing the arrival time later than it is determined in our policy. We’ve already notified our technical team so they can improve our system.”

If a customer mentioned nothing positive, you can still make the response sounds nice. Try something like this:

  • “We’re normally known as a highly professional, experienced agency. Thus, we would like to fix the situation as soon as possible.”
  • “Being known for our exceptional service, it came as a surprise. The moment we specify the details, we’ll come back to you to make things right.”

Focus on the good even if it seems hard. This way, others will be more likely to see it, too. Discover 5 reasons why customer service is important in 2020.

2. Be Objective in Your Reply

Negative reviews hurt. They are undesirable, stressful, and hard to deal with. However, the best thing you can do is to relax and try to be objective. Your head has to be clear. Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Open them. The feedback is still there. You have to cope with it properly. To do it, remember, this review is one person’s opinion. Something went wrong. It is not the end, but a gift that will help you become even better. After reading a bad review, you have to find out what happened. Your employees will help you to get the full picture. Investigate. Ask everyone who has even the slightest relation to the occurred situation. Again, be objective, as your employees could also be emotional and add some fake details. Try to look at the situation from the customer perspective.

negative client reviews care

Then, go back online and respond to negative customer reviews rage-free. Be kind, but serious. You have to show you are not familiar with such situations and that they rarely occur, but you are doing your best to fix it.  Do not hesitate using customer engagement tools to respond quickly. This way, you will appease the reviewer. Or, at worst, show others you take your business seriously and put customers’ needs first.

3. Apologize for Inconveniences

The client is always right. Yes, even if they are not. That’s the first business law. You can prove the client was wrong later. But first, you need to apologize. However, plain, impersonal “Sorry” isn’t enough. Your response to negative customer reviews has to be directed to a real person. You can try something like this: “We are very sorry our service didn’t meet your expectations. We put your preferences first and work hard to satisfy them. Your smile is our priority. We are already investigating the situation and will come back to you soon.”
Your apology shouldn’t sound like an excuse. It has to be honest, straightforward, and to the point.

Ohio State University and Eastern Kentucky University studies say that an effective apology is both specific and empathetic. Prove you understand how your customers feel and what consequences it may have for them. Perhaps their child won’t get a birthday present, or they feel stressed out. Share your thoughts on this subject:

  • “We do understand how disappointed you are.”
  • “Everyone would also be stressed out and mad.”
  • “I got myself in a similar situation and can imagine how important it is to you.”

Be a partner, not an opponent to your customer.

4. Take Responsibility for Negative Customer Reviews

Though apology is a good beginning, it is not enough. It could be if a customer complains right after purchasing at your offline shop. Or right after having a call with your salesperson. When it comes to a bad review online, you should take responsibility for the situation. When a complaint becomes public, you have to clear a misunderstanding up. After some internal investigation, provide your customer with a comprehensive response. Remember that a single mistake can taint your good reputation. Alternatively, take responsibility for it by trying online reputation repair tools to fix your bad online reputation.

clients feedback

“Our team apologizes for the misunderstanding that occurs when specifying delivery details. Due to the holiday season, our driver was overloaded and misheard your apartment number. Later, we couldn’t reach you at the phone number provided. As a result, we couldn’t deliver the package on time. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. From now on we will hire more drivers for this time of year. We believe such a situation will never happen again. You can pick up your order at any of our offline shops or schedule new delivery for any time and address you want. We hope to have you among our clients going forward. Thank you!”

No matter what caused bad customer experience, explain the reasons to your customer. Show you truly care. Some business owners think there is no need to be so pleasing. The money will solve the situation much better. They are wrong.

Contact Clients to Increase Customers Satisfaction Rate

The appropriate response to negative customer reviews is very hard to overestimate. According to a study on customer rage, only 37% of angry customers are satisfied with monetary remedy. But when they get public apologies the satisfaction rate increases two times – to 74%. However, this rule has one exception. Do not apologize if you did everything right. In this case, apologize that you didn’t meet the customer expectation, but clarify that it wasn’t your fault. Someone can be disappointed that a local shoe brand doesn’t have the same return policies as mass-market brands. Well, you can’t be something you are not. Make a clear statement about it in your response to negative reviews. Inform your potential customers that you didn’t break the rules. Again, being polite is a rule. People also value honesty and loyalty to principles, so do not neglect them.

5. Compensate Lost Time

Taking responsibility means not only words but acts. Admitting your fault and apologize will save your online reputation. Appropriate compensation will change the angry customer into a loyal one. If you don’t offer a discount or some other bonuses it means you think it was no big deal. At the same time, your disappointed customer could lose a lot of time or money. So, it has to be compensated implicitly. One of the most popular compensations when coping with a bad review is a discount for the next purchase. It is simple, effective and, at the end of the day, profitable for you. However, there is something more efficient than the usual discount. It is a gift of choice.

Respond to negative customer reviews deliberately. Give your angry customers a chance to choose. Such an opportunity has always more weight than regular excuse compensation. For example, if your customer was unsatisfied with the headphones, offer them two options. They can choose between product replacement and free technical service. It is easy and doesn’t require some extra effort from you. Still, it has an amazing effect as creates a feeling of empowerment.

Importance of Customer Reviews for Business

Last but not least, bad reviews work for your benefit. It is hard to believe but negative reviews improve your conversion rates. It is more likely that a person will buy a product from a business that has 5 reviews than from the one that has no reviews. So customer reviews, even bad ones, mean you are active. They prove your business is developing and people make use of your service. And if you respond to negative customer reviews, it means you have a human face. You care. And what else does a customer need? The ideal average of your stars is between 4.2 and 4.5. A higher rate doesn’t cause more sales. So, let it go. When you have real reviews, negative ones just reduce the buyer’s skepticism.

Best Ways to Respond to Negative Customer Reviews – Summing Up

Don’t you want to embrace them now? Anyway, if your ratings are lower than the mentioned numbers, don’t worry. It takes a short time and not much effort to increase them. TripAdvisor found that about 33% of hotels increase their rating by half a star within six months after they posted their first response. And there is no magic. Customers are looking for a trustworthy and alive business. They know no one is perfect and negative reviews make them sure you don’t lie or hide. You are ready to fix your mistakes and keep improving. A well-thought decent response to a negative review is not self-defense. It is a chance to grab the audience’s attention you were looking for without any advertising in a short time. It is your opportunity to present your company as trustworthy and reliable.

This is a great way to get a face and become recognizable.

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Author: Rhonda Martinez
Rhonda Martinez is a blogger, marketer, educator and former Head of Customer Service. Rhonda is passionate about helping companies improve customer experience and boost sales by sharing her knowledge and expertise in the field.