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74% of businesses have at least 1 online review. People are getting more and more connected online, which means if they have something to say about your business, they’ll definitely make it heard.

You strive to provide the best customer service possible, but of course, you’re going to have your off days. Perhaps a customer was really unhappy and has taken to the internet to drag your name through the dirt.

Upon seeing the review, it might be so horrible that you want to bury your head in the sand and ignore it.

But don’t. Here’s why responding to negative reviews is so important. And also, we’ll show you how you can do so effectively.

Why Respond?

So your main concern is: why respond?

These people may be trolls, after all, and they may be trying to instigate something so you’ll look even worse. Or they may actually be customers who weren’t satisfied with the service you provided.

Either way, the worst thing to do is to ignore them. 

You know how they say “don’t feed the trolls”? This is a terrible idea when it comes to online reviews.

Obviously, you don’t want to get into a devolving argument where you resort to calling them names because you’re so heated. Instead, you want to show that you can keep your cool and represent your brand in an excellent and classy way.

This achieves 2 things.

First of all, you get a chance to explain yourself. Maybe it was a day where you had a new employee on the job, or maybe you were down a worker for a shift.

When you give a clearer picture of what happened on the day (and apologize for it as well), it may be enough to get the customer to understand and change their review and opinion of your company.

Second of all, it gives you a chance to respond with poise. This will show both prospects and customers that you’re able to handle pressure tactfully. It will also show how empathetic you are to people and the lengths you’re willing to go to in order to keep customers happy.

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Ok, so you’re now convinced on the effectiveness of responding to negative reviews. But how exactly do you do so without it backfiring?

You need to keep in mind that you’re trying to achieve 2 things. Firstly, you want to take away your customer’s source of anger. Secondly, you want to manage your reputation by mitigating any damage that negative review may have caused.

Read on to find out the proper steps you need to take for a bad review response.

Apologize for the Inconvenience

The first thing you need to do is to apologize. Even if you feel like your business did nothing wrong, you need to apologize for any inconvenience the customer’s gone through.

Apologizing doesn’t necessarily mean you’re taking fault for what happened, especially if the customer remembered the details incorrectly. But what apologizing does do is show your customer that you sympathize with them and are sorry they felt that way.

You’d be surprised at how far acknowledgment and apologies go. Combined, they can disarm a disgruntled customer and actually diffuse the situation.

Mention Your Company’s Usual Standards and Policies

Which one you mention will depend on what the customer is complaining about.

If they’re upset that they sat around with no service for 10 minutes, apologize and make it known that your servers’ standards are to usually serve people within a few minutes of sitting.

If they’re angry because your employee wouldn’t let them return merchandise, then let them know what your usual policies are.

Whichever one you mention, you don’t want to seem smug. Instead, you just want to lay out everything in as neutral a tone as possible so your words can’t be misconstrued as you being haughty.

Explain the Situation if Necessary

Let’s use the first example from above; maybe you were severely understaffed and it was in the middle of the busiest hour at your restaurant. Feel free to explain the situation, as this can paint a much clearer picture for not only the customer but also anyone else who’s reading.

In the moment, they may have been stewing in their anger so much that they failed to notice what was happening around them. Now that they’ve had some time to cool down and look at things more clearly, your customer may be more open to listening to your explanation.

But be careful not to over-explain. Keep things short and sweet, as anything extra can be misconstrued.

Offer an Incentive to Come Back

When someone leaves you a negative review, you not only potentially lose that particular customer, but you may lose out on future business as well when people see their review.

So try and get them to give you a second chance. After taking apologizing and taking responsibility for their bad experience, you should give them an incentive to come back.

It can be something small, like 10% off on their next meal or a free dessert. They’ll certainly appreciate this, and after they return and experience excellent service, they may be compelled to change their review.

Plus, other users will see how generous you are and how much you’re willing to do to rectify a bad situation. This can encourage them to come to use your services or buy your products.

Responding to Negative Reviews Can Actually Help Your Business

As you can see, bad feedback isn’t always something to fear. In fact, by responding to negative reviews in an effective way, you can make your brand more visible and improve your reputation.

So the next time someone leaves you a bad review, don’t be disheartened. Instead, take the opportunity to turn it around into something good for your brand. When you can impress your customers, they’ll be even more inclined to support your business!

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