Top tips for dealing with negative online reviews

In today’s digital landscape there are so many ways for customers to submit reviews – including on platforms such as TrustPilot and Trip Advisor but even these are now being left behind by Google Reviews and Facebook.

In many instances opening yourself up to customer reviews can have a really positive impact on your business. If you know you’re great at what you do and have many satisfied customers why not advertise that fact through positive customer experiences. However, sometimes you just can’t please everyone and you will undoubtedly receive negatives reviews.

Often the first reaction of business owners is to seek away of removing it. Unfortunately the worst part of negative reviews is providing it’s a genuine review by a real person, it’s often impossible to remove them.

Before thinking that online reviews are not important, it’s worth looking over a recent consumer survey by BrightLocal. Some highlights of their statistics found:

  • 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
  • Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more
  • 30% of consumers commented that responding to reviews is key for local businesses
  • 68% of consumers have left a review when asked – with 74% having been asked
  • Consumers on average read 7 reviews before trusting a business

Any bad review can have an impact on your reputation. So take a breath and read through our top tips to overcome negative reviews and hopefully create a positive outcome.

Don’t ignore negative reviews and respond quickly

Almost all review platforms will provide a way for business owners to leave a public response. Responding to reviews in a timely manner will show that you are proactive and care about your reputation.

When responding remember that your thoughts will be public alongside the original review. Don’t let any anger or frustration you feel takeover, be professional and sympathetic.

Apologise for their negative experience and explain how unusual it is for your business to have unhappy customers. If you know something went wrong, be honest. Explain how you’ve taken steps to correct it. You might want to invite the person back to your business and offer them a special offer – this could even turn the review full circle and result in the same customer coming back to leave a positive review in the future.

Dilute negative ratings with positive reviews

One of the most effective ways of reducing the effect of rare negative reviews is to ensure there is a constant stream of positive ones.

A great way to gather more reviews is (surprisingly!) to simply ask for them. Don’t annoy customers by constantly reminding them to do it, but don’t be afraid to have sign in your business asking for reviews or place a (professionally made) small card asking for reviews within product packaging.

You could even double this up by promoting a special offer – who doesn’t love a discount?

Take negative reviews offline at the earliest opportunity

Whilst responding to negative reviews is a must that doesn’t mean you should get involved in a public spat with a customer. Keep your response brief and move the conversation offline asap.

Included within your apology should be a request to get in touch with you personally via email or phone. Include your contact information in any response – “Please give us a call and ask for [your name] and I’ll be happy to discuss this further with you.” 

There’s a reasonable chance the customer will ignore your request, but anyone viewing it will be able to see that you’ve taken their thoughts seriously and have attempted to find a resolution.

Don’t copy and paste the same response to all negative reviews

If you’re simply copying and pasting the same response to all negative reviews you may as well not bother at all. It will look insincere and that you haven’t actually taken time to read the review and consider the thoughts of the reviewer.

The most important thing to an unhappy customer is the thought that you take their thoughts seriously. Taking time to write an individual response is far more personal. It’s fine (and probably unavoidable) for responses to be similar but definitely resist an urge to copy and paste.

Negative reviews are not the end of the world

Reading negative reviews can be a lousy experience but they really shouldn’t be seen as the end of the world. If you know you’re providing a great product or service and are proud of the customer service you provide, then a few negative reviews shouldn’t be something your business can’t overcome.

That said, if the negatives are out numbering the good it could be that you need to look deeper than just your business reputation. Treat negative reviews as a learning experience especially if customers are consistently citing the same area of criticism – it could be time to make some changes within your business.