Ronak Kothari is the founder of RONKOT, a full-service digital marketing agency.
Having an online presence for your business has its ups and downs. While you want to leverage a Google business profile listing (previously known as Google My Business) to create a strong digital presence, negative public reviews can be an issue. It is vital to remember that reacting to negative feedback is tied up in your marketing strategy that manages customer experience. But no matter how negative the review is, it is important to respond.
In a highly competitive digital marketing environment, every business is bound to experience difficulty coping with bad reviews. Despite you investing all your hard effort into wooing your customers and giving great quality service, a bad review could wreak havoc. You have to react to a negative review, as annoying as it may be. Moreover, it forms a critical part of reputation management for your business.
Your Google business profile has an enormous influence on the ability to bring in new customers. A study revealed that 79% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Google has shown that reacting to positive or negative reviews improves your search engine rankings.
Also, responding to unfavorable reviews may benefit your company, so don’t discount that possibility. When you only have favorable reviews and star ratings, customers tend to look at it warily. Everyone knows that small companies make mistakes and don’t always provide the finest service, even local ones.
This post discusses some of the best practices that help respond to negative reviews, along with some templates to help you get started.
Tip #1. Be quick to respond
The inability of businesses to react to unfavorable reviews promptly is one of the most pressing issues they confront. And it’s understandable why you’d feel that way. You want to think this through and come with the right response. Also, you may plan to avoid it entirely for some time to let the issue settle by itself. But that is counter-productive.
You’ve got a full-fledged business to run. You could be dealing with a shortage of staff, late shipments, and a slew of other issues daily. It is possible that a single negative review on Google may not be on your radar. But ideally, it should be.
As soon as you’re aware of a negative review, set a few minutes aside to address it quickly. If you put it off for too long, it makes your eventual apology come off as untruthful. Since most online reviews are date stamped, customers can see how long it took for you to get back to them.
Tip #2. Opt for a 1:1 conversation
While it is ideal to first respond to a negative Google review, it is not necessarily the best to take on the conversation. It is neither a real-time communication channel nor a 1:1 client engagement platform. Other customers may respond positively to their remarks and submit additional evaluations supporting or contextualizing the first customer’s negative experience.
Try opening up a one-on-one conversation with the customer once you read and respond to a bad review. You can follow the template mentioned above or create your own to get complaining customers to another channel. Your aim is not to conceal the issue or defend yourself online but to address consumer demands by engaging with them via the best online or offline channels (discussed later).
Tip #3. Apologize, don’t argue
There are times when you receive a negative review out of the blue. While you do everything right to ensure a quality customer experience, they might find a fault or two and cut your star ratings. Or perhaps, they may accuse you of something that’s not your mistake. In any case, it is never a good idea to argue online, especially on publicly visible Google reviews.
In genuine cases, you can’t guess what the customer went through. Not only can it be hard to get all the facts from a short review, but it also looks terrible to start a fight with your customers online. You may end up alienating other customers who may see your behavior and conclude that you are not a pleasant enough company for them to do business with. Rather, apologize.
Such an approach is a testament to your business ethics, demonstrating to customers that you are willing to take their issues seriously. Such an approach allows you to gather all the necessary information before delivering a customized solution to their problem.
Tip #4. Thank them for their review
Remember, good or bad, any review for your business demands your customer’s precious time. Because of this, every time someone writes a review for your products or services, it means they carry a strong opinion about your company.
A cohesive marketing strategy encourages others to speak about you, and Google reviews are no different. You can ask for reviews via email as a part of a business profile optimization strategy that helps customers to get started with reviews. Even if a customer writes a negative review, thank them for their effort. This achieves a few things like —
- Quickly disbursing the negativity or frustration
- Make your reviewer feel heard and valued
- Showing potential customers that you care about your customers’ opinions
Alternatively, you can start with a small phrase like, “Hey, thanks so much for taking the time to write…” This is the perfect introduction for your response to a negative review.
Tip #5. When needed, write a short response and take the matter offline
You don’t want to indulge yourself in giving out too much information on a public platform. And since the initial response may spark further conversation, it is best to take it offline, outside of the public eyes.
Also, you can respond to the customer review and then preferably direct them to further options that help resolve their problems quickly. It is highly unlikely that you will draw a suitable conclusion from the first reaction.
Give your customer the choice of a direct message in the review response. Give them your email address or a contact number to help you with a more thorough investigation of the issue. This also has the bonus of adding a personal touch to your response, giving the customer the chance to chat with an actual human being instead of a faceless business identity.
Tip #6. Correct the mistake
If you work on the mistakes that reviewers point out, you are in the right direction. This is one way of taking responsibility and fixing the problem better. Consider giving the consumer a complimentary service or product in lieu of a refund if they have earned it. Find out what’s causing them displeasure and fix it.
When your efforts are genuine, customers might even remove the negative review or make it positive. In case you run out of ideas to rectify the problem, resort to a highly persuasive public response to a negative review. This should demonstrate your genuine remorse and determination to prevent a recurrence of this kind of mistake.
Tip #7. Follow up post resolution
Do not simply work to fix the mistake. Keep in touch with the customer once you provide them with the resolution. Once you are done handling their issue, it’s a good idea to follow up with them a few weeks later. Customer feedback is frequently ignored, so it may be a pleasant surprise when someone checks in to see how things are going.
The same consumer might end up supporting you online, praising you as an excellent example of reacting to complaints and negative reviews. They may even turn into evangelists if you follow them up and provide exclusive offers.
Tip #8. Provide discounts or other incentives
Some customers would publish negative reviews only to vent their frustrations. They have no intention of returning to your response as well. In such instances, you may reclaim their attention by presenting rewards that demonstrate your genuineness.
Measure your Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) to decide whether it is good to provide an incentive for a negative review. Consider if a potential consumer is NOT A GOOD MATCH if they don’t spend much money with you and leave negative reviews often.
You’ll lose money on such customers in the long run since you might have used the discount to attract or retain a customer with a greater lifetime value instead of continually providing them discounts. Also, this is something that you would resort to when the review is highly negative for a product or a service that your business considers premium.
Time to roll up your sleeves
Maintain an awareness of how you react to consumer feedback that helps maintain an excellent reputation on your Google business profile. This should give you the power over how your brand is seen by prospective consumers.
Learning the art of responding to negative reviews may take time but it is a rewarding process as customers feel more connected to your company and your brand’s online reputation. Pay close attention to the customer’s expectations when they write what they expected and what they received. You need to ensure that they keep coming back to your business with more expectations and you provide them with what they search for.
Also, keep in mind that positive reviews are also important to highlight what you are doing well. You should praise clients who post positive reviews about your business online and encourage others to do the same.
Customers are less likely to return if you don’t respond to negative reviews. Consequently, it diminishes your brand image and other prospective customers would be hesitant to do business with you. But you can always turn to any of the suitable above-mentioned tips and get started with the right responses.