How to Respond to Negative Online Reviews Positively and Constructively

Between honest mistakes and simple misunderstandings, every business will encounter negative online reviews, and businesses have been grappling with how best to deal with them since the birth of the online review website. Many businesses have decided that quietly absorbing the criticism without commenting is the best way forward, but it sometimes appears as though issues are being overlooked or ignored. Directly addressing criticism is undoubtedly a fine art, but there are proven ways in which you can respond positively and constructively.

3 Key Goals

1. Actively demonstrate that you have recognised the issue 2. Respond calmly 3. Offer an appropriate resolution If you’ve made a mistake, own up to it and apologise! No one can be 100% perfect all the time and mistakes happen. In these situations it’s important to remember that a sincere apology can go a long way, and not shying away from or overlooking the issue will always earn you respect. In fact, your customers probably aren’t looking for perfection, they just want to see that you’re genuine, transparent, and want to improve.

Keep Calm

You pour your time, energy and love into your business and it’s only natural to feel emotional if someone criticises it. As tempting as it may be to immediately vent your frustrations, taking time to collect your thoughts is one of the most important and constructive things you can do. You never want to say something you might regret, and giving yourself some breathing room will result in a measured response that will lead to a better resolution. Convincing your customer to give you another chance is your ultimate goal. However, a pleasant and transparent response, whilst also concisely communicating your side of the story, will instil a level of confidence in your business within other potential customers, encouraging them not to be put off by one negative review.

Stay on Brand

Being polite is always a key aim, but whether you choose a highly professional response, or one with a touch of measured humour will depend on your brand’s voice, your vibe and your target audience.

Negatives Can Become Positives

You’ll learn something new from every comment you receive, but you can also use them as a platform from which to highlight the core strengths of your business. Don’t be defensive, but do calmly explain your core values and how you strive to provide the best possible experience for every customer. Even when they’re not, your customers are always right and inviting them to get in contact directly to discuss their concerns may help you to reach a successful resolution.

3 Top Tips to Take Away

1. Research the most popular review websites and understand how they work. From there, make sure you check them regularly and reply accordingly in a timely manner. 2. Negative reviews can happen at any time, so it’s important to be prepared. Aim to always respond within a certain time frame (between 24-48 hours is ideal); take ownership and offer an appropriate resolution. 3. Turn negatives into positives. Keeping a record of reviews can help for future training, polishing your responses, and refining business practices. Running a business is a constant learning experience, so make sure you seize every opportunity to grow, learn and improve.

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