No small business owner likes to see negative reviews pop up. Criticisms posted to Facebook, Google, or Yelp can sting. They can feel personal. What’s more, they can damage your business’ online reputation—causing potential customers to think twice about giving you their hard-earned money.
Still, negative reviews happen, despite your best efforts to make every customer happy. When you see a bad review, don’t panic. Instead, follow these five basic rules.
What to Do When You Get a Negative Review
First, acknowledge it. Ignoring online reviews doesn’t do any good. It might just encourage the reviewer to troll you even harder. Plus, other customers who see the review may wonder why you haven’t taken the time to help the customer with the complaint. The bottom line: Unaddressed reviews look bad.
Keep calm. If it looks bad to leave negative reviews unanswered, it looks even worse to fly off the handle and respond to a customer in rage. No matter how unreasonable you think the customer is being, remember: People are watching. They want to see how you respond. Take some time to cool off, and don’t reply until you’re able to do so without any anger or hostility.
Offer a solution. A negative review presents you with an opportunity to show real customer service skills—and if you can do so effectively, it might end up enhancing, rather than detracting from, your brand. Try to think of some ways to make things right with the customer who’s complaining. Go above and beyond, because again—people are watching!
Flip the script. Negative reviews also provide a great chance for you to reiterate what makes your company great. Saying something like “We’ve been in business for 10 years, and maintain 99 percent satisfaction scores from our clients” can be a great way to emphasize that your reputation is for excellence, and that you’re committed to impressing your clientele.
Ask to take the conversation offline. Arrange to speak with the customer privately, over email or phone, to make things right—rather than airing your dirty laundry for all the world to see. If you can turn that unhappy customer into a happy one, you might even ask for them to revise their review accordingly.
Now, there’s just no pleasing some customers—so if you follow these tips and still can’t get through to them, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just focus on providing great service to your other customers, and hopefully winning some positive reviews to offset the bad ones.