A customer review is a powerful marketing tool and both positive and negative reviews play a huge part in the decision-making process.

No matter how customers review your business online, whether it’s through Google, Facebook, Trustpilot or Tripadvisor, it’s a great way for individuals to share their experiences with you. Potential customers use these assessments to determine whether they will use your services, buy your products and invest in your brand.

However, your response to bad reviews could make or break the next conversion. Although it can be frustrating and time-consuming, it is worth responding rather than avoiding negative feedback.

Always diffuse and remedy the situation. Even if you feel you don’t deserve a negative review, responding can make a significant difference to your business. Here’s why:

Why You Should Respond to a Negative Review

A Public Review Means a Public Response

When replying to a negative review, you are not just replying to the unhappy individual, you are replying to your entire audience. Potential customers will have access to these reviews and your responses, so will establish an impression from both.

According to the Local Consumer Review Survey 2022, 89% of consumers are ‘highly’ or ‘fairly’ likely to use a business that responds to all of its online reviews and 57% say they would be ‘not very’ or ‘not at all’ likely to use a business that doesn’t respond to reviews at all. The choice of whether you respond and the delivery of your response both play a part in the perception of your business. It can be one of the deciding factors of whether readers will choose yours over a competitor.

Customers Always Remember How They Feel

If you care about your customers’ experience, you should show that by responding to their reviews. Not only will this strengthen the relationship between the reviewer and yourselves, but also display your company values to potential customers too.

Instead of thinking about how you want your business to come across in your response, think about how you want your customer to feel. By making sure they feel valued, heard and important, you will encourage loyalty and forgiveness. You will also highlight how much customer experience means to you as a business.

More Possibility of Repeat Business & Increase in Traffic

Leading on from the point above, responding to negative reviews can actually lead to better business rather than lessen your reputation. According to Jay Baer, a marketing and customer service expert, businesses experience a 16% boost in customer advocacy if bad reviews are responded to. If not, the business faces a 37% decline.

If you take responsibility for the situation and take a customer’s complaint on board, readers will perceive your business as always aiming to provide the best customer experience. Also, if a negative review is handled amicably, this may encourage the reviewer to share this additional experience which could result in more leads.

Reduce the Risk of Future Negative Reviews

By responding to reviews, you enhance your business’ online presence which reduces the risk of negative reviews in the future. Due to the public audience, an online record and an active responder, customers are less likely to seek confrontation.

Also, when customers witness that you are responsive to their issues, instead of leaving a review, they will be more inclined to get in touch with you directly. This could then potentially turn into a positive review, highlighting your business’ drive to help solve customer problems.

Tips for Responding to a Negative Review

Now you know why, here’s how to respond to a negative review.

Always Respond to a Negative Review & Quickly

Even though you might not want to respond, you should always respond rather than reject – time is of the essence. In fact, 53% of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week; ideally, you should respond to reviews within 24 hours. If you respond later than 24 hours, you may be perceived as disrespectful, insincere and apathetic.

Time is money, so make sure you don’t lose any by setting some time aside to articulate a response to each review as they come through. In doing so right away, you can make sure this task is completed efficiently and every review is replied to. By responding to every individual review, you will ensure reviewers feel heard and valued.

Keep It Short, Sweet & Concise

When you’re feeling defensive after receiving a negative review, it’s important to avoid the temptation of writing pages explaining yourself. Restrain and withhold from doing so by taking a breather before responding immediately.

A lengthy response has a number of negative connotations:

  • It can validate a customer’s negative experience
  • It may feel like you’re putting the blame on the reviewer
  • Desperation and aggression could be perceived

There’s also the risk of it not getting read at all, so there is no need to waste your time. Keep it short, sweet and to the point whilst being understanding, showing grace and apologising.

Always Thank Them for Their Negative Review & Apologise

As a general guideline, your introductory sentence should always thank them for leaving a review for your business. This will immediately diffuse the negativity, express that you are willing to listen and, most of all, let customers that you welcome every type of feedback so you can enhance the customer experience.

It’s important to come across professional and polite which is why you should state both gratitude and sympathy straight away. Even if their reasoning isn’t your fault, it’s vital you apologise as they didn’t receive the experience they were expecting. An apology goes a long way and reminds customers that you are human too and considerate of their feelings.

Be Aware of Your Tone & Empathise

You need to make sure you continue this empathetic tone from the introductory sentence throughout. In addition to keeping it short and sweet, it should come across as cool and kind. Make sure you are sincere and amicable, so you show the reviewer and other readers that you are handling the negativity in the most productive and helpful way.

There’s that well-known saying, “everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” No matter if they have left you a negative review you don’t agree with, take the high road, keep calm and show compassion. Keep the frustration at bay and think about how you would like to be responded to if you were having a bad day.

Show Your Determination to Resolve the Issue

Whilst being empathetic, apologetic and pragmatic, it’s important to also show determination to solve their problem. Make sure to address specific issue/s they have raised and try to solve it with more than just a response.

Identify where this could have gone wrong, deal with it internally and report back to the customer. Reassure them you have taken their feedback on board and you will action a solution for the future. If you are ever unsure what they mean in their review, don’t be afraid to ask what you could do better; this shows initiative and improvement.

Make Sure to Follow Up on Post-Review Response

Finally, make sure to leave your name and contact details, so the reviewer can contact you. This could be to discuss their feedback further, to resolve it “in-person” or to offer them an incentive unique to them to redeem for future use.

Another way to follow up would be to search your database to find their contact details – if they’ve ordered with you before, signed up to your mailing list or set up an account with you – and get in touch with them via the available channels. This will show them that you are willing to go that extra mile to reconcile and resolve their negative experience. You might even be able to get an edited, positive review out of them after this!

Do You Need to Respond to Neutral or Positive Reviews?

Now we’ve covered negative reviews, what about neutral or positive ones? As a general rule, we would recommend that you should respond to every kind of review. There are some things you need to consider though:

How Many Reviews You Receive

If you only have a small handful of reviews, it’s good practice to respond to each one. If you have multiple reviews being submitted every day on different platforms, then be selective in your responses. We recommend reacting to short reviews and replying more in-depth to longer reviews. If you receive a negative review that is only a sentence, still make sure you reply to this.

No Duplicate Responses

If you are going to take the time to reply to every single review, you need to make sure that you are not copying and pasting the same response every time. It’s important that you tailor each response to each review, address each individual piece of feedback and use them to your advantage to drive potential customers to your website. By highlighting the strengths of your business, you will increase your online traffic and conversions.

Why Do You Need to Respond to a Positive Review?

  • More consumers use Google to evaluate local business than ever before. In 2021, 81% of consumers did compared to 63% the year before. Don’t let the positive reviews do all the talking, respond and show the personable character and responsive nature of your business.
  • We’re only human at the end of the day and it’s polite to say thank you after someone compliments you!
  • Did you know that reviews also affect your search rankings? By replying to every kind of review, you can improve yours and increase the review’s visibility and consequently your business’ visibility.

How to Respond to a Positive Review

  • Similar to negative reviews, make sure you always say thank you to the reviewer for leaving their feedback. By referring to a specific comment, it will let the customer know their opinion has been acknowledged and valued. This leads to encouraging customer advocacy and further positive reviews down the line.
  • In order to help improve your search rankings, remember to include your business name, location and industry in your reply. Inserting these keywords will help boost your local search authority and help local customers find your business.
  • To gain more traffic and conversions, use your reviews as a marketing tool and promote your services where you can – make sure it’s not out of place and unnatural though!
  • Encourage the customer to revisit by personally inviting them back and offering them something they might be interested in. Maybe there’s a new product, new service or a special discount on at the moment you could highlight and use their name to personalise this invitation.

Boost Your Business’ Online Presence

We all know that reviews can shape the way your business is perceived and this is why your response to every kind of feedback is powerful. Reinforce your company values and make your customers feel appreciated so they return over and over again.

For more information on tackling negative reviews on social media, the Chamber of Business has a useful post on this.

Do you need help setting up your online review platform? Contact us today for some expert advice and guidance by leaving us a message on our contact page. Alternatively, you can call us on 01473 934050 or email us at [email protected]. Interested to find out more about Logic Design? Visit our homepage or see our services.