7 Effective Tips for Responding to Negative Online Reviews

Online reputation management is an excellent way to build goodwill with and be educated by vocal customers. It’s important to plan how to respond to negative reviews, however. The Internet is a blunt medium, and while the intention may be to get more positive reviews, it can be misinterpreted.

Before getting started, keep three things in mind about your reviewing customers:

  • Reviewers have given money, so they are a paying customer
  • Reviewers are also human, meaning they have sensitivities and feelings to consider
  • Reviewers are opinionated and obviously vocal

This led us to develop a list of 7 quick tips to consider when wanting or needing to reply to a negative online review.

1. Comments & Feedback? Free Research

When a company receives comments on social media or feedback on other marketing channels, this can actually be considered a type of consumer research. In this way, it helps the business to maintain this perspective. Business owners seeking to get more positive reviews should record such commentary and note any questions, complaints or tips that are provided on social media. Some of these ideas might actually be the valuable kind of information that normally requires paid research.

It is indeed difficult to keep a positive outlook and remember this when you must respond to negative reviews, but the perspective is guaranteed to offer some valuable insight for what is typically a difficult part of online marketing and online reputation management.

2. Remember All Responses Are Visible

When a company responds to a review, whether it is a positive or a negative one, anyone who follows the social media account is going to see it. While most won’t necessarily comment, they’ll keep a keen eye on the company depending on how the response affected their perspective.

To monitor online reviews and respond to complaints is an opportunity to express that the business cares about solving problems and ensuring every customer is satisfied.

Those who respond quickly and appropriately are the ones who will develop trust with their audience, which goes much more than just the one person who made the original complaint at the time. Your potential customers will see this and acknowledge the fact you made the attempt to rectify a possible off-putting circumstance.

3. Be Cool and Respond in an Appropriate Manner

It’s easy to fall into the trap; a customer makes an off-hand, negative remark about a product, an employee, the business or the one in charge, and the company wants to swiftly make a statement to justify why that customer is wrong.

Don’t do this. Take a breath.

Whatever the problem is, and even if it is true, avoid blaming the person who made the comment. Avoid blaming the person for a misleading comment, either. Comments should never be taken personally, because it’s easy to respond in an accusatory or an emotional way. Listen to what was stated and then provide a professional response and display empathy to the situation for the customer. It’ll go a long way than an impetuous remark.

4. Keep it Simple

It isn’t always best to try and resolve something with a long response. A company’s social media page is public, and it doesn’t help anyone when the company accidentally airs some dirty laundry and drags it out in an unclear manner. It can leave potential customers confused or even frustrated.

A basic response boilerplate in some instances can help, such as “We are sorry you’re having a problem. Please send us a message if you’d like further help.”

This is especially true in medical and dental practices; by keeping the public response as brief as possible; the company is likely not to develop new problems later on. It also puts a call to action on the customer to make further contact for a resolution and proves you are being active and timely in monitoring your online reputation.

5. Right or Rich?

All businesses strive to be successful; responding emotionally to an online comment is a quick way to sabotage that success when current and would-be customers get turned off. Always think of the bigger picture and whether a response will harm or help a company’s reputation.

Never argue over the little details, especially online. In fact, it’s smart to take the situation offline rather than continue to resolve it online as mentioned above.

6. No Need to Respond to Everyone

While it’s smart to respond to anyone who has an honest complaint, not everyone is polite with their complaints. All too often, commentary can be vulgar, crude or otherwise appalling since society tends to be more courageous when anonymous on a computer.

Only monitor online reviews of actual complaints without participating in foul play; otherwise, the business is only going to look petty at best or childish and immature at worst.

7. Resolve the Conflict Offline

Nobody wants to get involved with an online argument, especially when the opponent is someone who is very vocal and opinionated about what he or she believes. No one wins in this situation.

It is strongly recommended to try and drive the conflict to a personal phone call with an executive or manager for the company.

Be sure to include the direct phone number and name of the individual to speak with, giving an opportunity to come to a resolution for everyone involved. This will give the company the reputation of monitoring their online presence and being prepared to actually resolve conflict, not just to make a good front across the web.

Let us know about your experiences dealing with and handling negative reviews your business received in the comments below. You have may have more tips or proven strategies to share and we’d love to hear them.

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