Negative Online Reviews.jpgEarlier this year, we had the opportunity to share some good news:

Negative online reviews? They’re not as bad as you think.

In fact, we came up with five pretty good ways bad internet reviews can actually help you out. Of course, if you really want to capitalize on the negativity, you’re going to need a solid game plan for crafting the perfect response. Think Gandhi-meets-Jimmy-Carter here…

How to Respond to Negative Online Reviews

  • Read with empathy. Step into the customer’s shoes – no matter how clownish those shoes may seem to be at first glance. Do your best to try and understand where they’re coming from. Recognize that the customer only sees a small sliver of your business, and that he’s not criticizing your life’s work! While you know the core of the complaint is actually, say, FedEx’s fault, the customer doesn’t know that. So, shake out any anger or hurt feelings you may have; we’re moving on!
  • Identify the customer’s core complaint(s). Once you’ve made a genuine attempt to understand where the customer is coming from, look objectively for his core complaint. Extract this information. Write it down for yourself. Say it out loud. The point is: know it. If you can’t put your finger on the specific problem, then you won’t be able to address it.
  • Thank the customer for providing honest feedback. Begin your response by thanking the customer for his feedback – no matter how irritating or offensive you may consider his “feedback” to be. Be genuine about this.
  • Acknowledge each one of his complaints. Next, acknowledge the complaint. You don’t have to literally repeat his problem back to him, but you should include some kind of statement that clearly acknowledges the issue. Take this example I came across the other day on Amazon:

Customer complains about quality issue.

Director of Marketing responds.

  • Don’t downplay the situation; don’t make excuses. Even if the issue was FedEx’s fault, don’t blame FedEx in your response to the negative online review. Own the situation. Take charge!
  • Promise to make it better. Then actually do it. Here’s the part where you follow through! If you can’t send a replacement product or give the customer credit, think of the little things you could do. Something as simple as a handwritten note can make a world of difference in our digital age where so many of us are used to corresponding with companies online (if we interact with each other at all).
  • Provide the reviewer with your direct contact information. Always, always, always leave the door open when finishing your response. Tell the agitated customer to email or DM you for your direct office line or email (if you don’t want that information public). Let the customer know your line is open for him if he has further complaints about his experience as your customer.

Of course, not every review is worthy of a response. Don’t feel the need to respond to trolls or customers who have objectively absurd complaints! Have you had the opportunity to respond to a bad internet review of your company? How did you handle the situation? I’d love to hear your strategy and suggestions for dealing with negative online reviews in the comments below.