During the month of January, Focused Engagement has been discussing everything about online reviews. Our previous posts include information about why online reviews are important for a local business as well as how to get more online reviews. If you have read those posts, you probably know a lot more about online reviews than you knew before. But if you have not read those posts, we suggest you do before you continue reading this one. They will give you the necessary knowledge that will benefit you while you learn more about online reviews in this post.

Okay, so after following the tips in our previous blog posts, you have plenty of reviews of your local businesses. As you begin reading through those precious reviews, you notice that a few of them are not exactly positive. To put it simply: negative online reviews will happen. There are bound to be some people that are unhappy with some part of your local business, no matter if it is something insignificant or something noticeable. Here are some tips for responding to negative online reviews that will be sure to help you out.  

Responding to negative online reviews

Respond quickly and often

This is our first tip for responding to negative online reviews for a good reason. Although we understand that you have many other things to do to keep your business running, responding to negative online reviews is very important as well. If someone is looking at your business and sees a very negative review that was not responded to for days or weeks, that can leave a bad taste in their mouth. But if they are looking at your business and see a negative review with a quick response from your business, they are more likely to read through it and consider visiting your business.

As for the “often” part of this tip, we recommend responding to every single review that you get. Regardless of if the feedback you are getting is positive or negative, it is critical to show current and potential customers that you see value in their words and actively try to improve your business.

Personalize each review response

One of the first things that you should do while responding to negative online reviews is to remember that each review is different and no two will be the same. With that being said, your response should be personalized to the customer that left it. Address them by name and make sure you acknowledge each point that they made in their review. We understand that personalized messages can take a lot longer to write than you would like, but generic responses are usually not a good idea if you want to impress current and potential customers.

Take responsibility instead of deflecting

Often times when someone leaves a negative review, they have had some sort of negative experience with your business. Whether this is a huge issue or something minor, it is best to take responsibility for the issue while responding to negative online reviews. By taking responsibility, it shows that what happened is not something that is a constant issue and that you will work to fix it.

Blaming the customer for the issue, also know as deflecting, is the last thing that you want to do. It will likely make you look worse in their eyes and the eyes of people who are considering visiting your business. You have probably seen one of these types of reviews before which has made you less likely to visit a business. This is not something that you will want to happen to your business on a constant basis, let alone ever.

Compensate the reviewer if applicable

This tip may not be applicable for every business, but we thought it could still be useful for some. For example, if you own a restaurant and a customer is unhappy with their food, giving them an apology as well as a voucher for a free food item will likely clear the air. If you are unable to compensate the offended customer for whatever reason, a sincere apology is the best route for you.

Offer to discuss the issue offline if needed

Sometimes while you are responding to negative online reviews, you will not be able to respond adequately online. This may be because the issue is very complex, or it is something that would be better to handle in-person. In this case, you can offer to discuss the issue at your local business so it can be handled appropriately. It depends on the customer as not everyone will take you up on your in-person offer, but it is still a good idea to offer this option.