My dad’s great. There’s so much you can learn from him. But there’s one thing he does that none of us should — he likes “erasing” problems rather than solving them. As I was researching the topic, I came across a number of questions like “how to delete negative reviews on Google and Yelp” coming from desperate business owners. Dad isn’t alone in this problem-solving practice, it seemed.
Only, dad doesn’t have a business, and these guys do.
So, instead of looking at negative reviews as problems that need to go away, let’s view them as opportunities and use them to your advantage.
Remember, your content writing agency may be doing wonders with your website content, but you can’t expect the writers to handle negative reviews without your guidance and support.
It’s Not About Negativity but Trust
Negative reviews can be anywhere:
- Your website
- Your GMB listing
- Even your hotel/restaurant’s visitors’ book
If you’re focusing solely on getting as many 5-star reviews as possible, you are doing it wrong. Encouraging people (however subtly you may think you’re doing it) to only give you their positive feedback, makes you come across as a bit desperate and somewhat pushy. As a client, it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth even if you enjoyed the service/product.
The truth is, people take many factors into consideration when deciding on a business. And the presence of negative reviews isn’t one of them. It’s their trustworthiness and credibility.
So, resist the urge to delete your negative reviews, and let’s see how to respond to them instead. The way you handle negative reviews can get readers on your side and make them your avid fans. That’s one opportunity you will never have if you keep ignoring negative feedback.
Why People Read Negative Reviews?
We all know consumer sentiment for positive reviews. They serve to validate our choice for a particular store, restaurant, hotel, etc.. They massage our egos and set the bar for our expectations.
Negative reviews, on the other hand, prepare us for the worst-case scenario. Will the food be crappy; is the service going to disappoint; do products reflect the pictures on the website; the list goes on and on.
But that’s just one side of it.
People turn to negative reviews to understand the people behind the business. Do you know how to take criticism; do you care about your clients; what happens when the client’s at fault and not you; do you get arrogant; the list is just as long as the previous one.
“You don’t define your brand. Your customers do.”
And they do it by seeing your human side, so show it to them by responding to negative reviews the right way.
Responding to Negative Reviews:101
The thing about negative reviews is that the majority of them are not unsubstantiated.
And people know that.
So, let’s skip the part where you play hard to get and reach the point where you sit on your butt and prepare to respond.
#1 Don’t Get Emotional
It’s true that businesses run on passion and good strategy, but don’t let that emotion make you egocentric. People trust your company not solely for your product/service, so you owe it to them to be objective when faced with their negative feedback.
- Use phrases like: I think, I feel, I doubt, etc. — Don’t make it about you, keep the spotlight on the client and their bad experience.
- Get offensive — even if the reviewer used agitated language, you shouldn’t match them. Keep your cool.
- Make statements you can’t support/prove — Don’t fall victim to your anger and frustration, and don’t make things up just to get the upper hand.
- Thank them for their feedback — it’s just like marketing. Good or bad, it’s still important.
- Apologize for the inconvenience and admit your fault (when that was the case).
- Present the facts — I’ll just leave one of my favorite negative review responses here, and you’ll know what I mean.
#2 Get to the Bottom of It
The only efficient way to fight negativity is with knowledge. Find out what happened. Go through your security footage, check with the courier company you’re using, find any relevant documentation, basically everything revolving the case. Don’t do it out of spite, but out of genuine care for the situation and for your business.
#3 Offer Solutions Instead of Redirecting the Blame
We are still talking about negative reviews that aren’t written by trolls. For those, I’ll dedicate a separate hashtag.
So, once you know what happened and have your data, present the facts. Take the blame if it’s yours, and provide an alternative to the current situation.
You can offer freebies, discounts, vouchers, product replacement, and other relevant, actionable solutions.
#4 Get Writing Help for the Response
How you phrase your response makes all the impact in the end. If you are not using a content writing agency, it’s important you get the help of an experienced writer. Your response needs to express:
- Empathy — let the client know you are genuinely concerned with their case.
- Desire to help/Engagement — explain how you researched the situation, what measures you took, what people you contacted/spoke with, etc.
- Positivity — don’t be overly enthusiastic and positive, but make it clear that you seek a beneficial resolution to the problem.
- Value — offer a solution without sounding cocky for caring at all.
#5 Bonus Hashtag: for Trolls’ Comments
Some people just find pleasure in writing unsubstantiated negative reviews… or they get paid for it. Either way, those are situations in which taking the blame is the last thing you should do. Stand your ground & —
Kill them with kindness.
…and then kill them with facts.
In Case You Wonder What I Think
I personally love negative reviews. When I’m torn between two companies/brands, I turn to their reviews. I like when brands aren’t afraid of showing character and being politically incorrect. We live in a world (soon to be) dominated by millennials, so playing it safe with EU-like diplomacy won’t cut it for long. Having said that, my final remark is:
Don’t drop your nerves when responding to negative reviews.
Drop the mic by being honest and factual instead.
Till next time,