Collage of negative emotions

How To Deal With Negative Online Reviews

Online reviews are important to consumers and businesses. With today’s fast pace and the ubiquity of internet access, consumers consult online reviews before making purchasing decisions. Reviews can literally sway you towards or away from a product or service. Whether these reviews are on Amazon, Google, Yelp, or a medical doctor review site doesn’t really matter. What is important for businesses is understanding that buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. People trust online reviews almost as much as personal recommendations. Online reviews are critical in getting customers to research a product or service.

Just look at some of these statistics about online reviews:

  • 88% of consumers say that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. (Source: BrightLocal)
  • 70% of consumers say business service reviews (recruiting services, agencies) are as or more important than reviews of personal services (home contractors, babysitters). (Source: Capterra)
  • Customers spend 31% more with a business that has “excellent” reviews. (Source: Invesp)
  • 40% of buyers form an opinion of a business after reading just 1-3 reviews. (Source: BrightLocal)
  • 72% of buyers will take action only after reading a positive review. (Source: BrightLocal)

So what should you do when you get a negative review?

Respond Promptly

Promptly responding to a negative review shows the customer that you care and value their opinion. A prompt and personal response may also help you get a second chance from the customer that had an initial negative experience with your company, service, or product.

Take the Issue Offline

If it’s possible, try to replay via email or phone. For example, Yelp gives business page owners the opportunity to respond via email. If you are able to resolve the matter to the customer’s satisfaction, leave a brief comment in the public timeline.

Be Polite and Don’t Take the Review Personally

A negative review might piss you off and lead you to respond with harsher words than are necessary. Take time to collect your thoughts and respond by saying something like “Thank you for your valuable feedback. I would love the opportunity to speak with you about your experience. Please contact me at your earliest convenience.”

It’s more important for a business or service provider to take the high road and appear conciliatory to customer concerns than it is to establish its side of the story. The customer will always win any argument about their experience.

If, after talking to the person, you find there is a valid reason for his comments, take proactive steps to remedy the situation. When warranted, provide restitution in the form of a coupon or discount.

Monitor Your Online Presence

In order to respond to reviews, you need to know what customers are saying and where they are saying it. Either do this yourself, or hire an expert to monitor for you.

Understand How Rating and Review Sites Work

Each customer rating and review site has a unique algorithm that filters and ranks reviews.

Yelp recommends reviews it think will be most helpful to the Yelp community based on three factors: quality, reliability, and the reviewer’s activity on the site.

Tripadvisor ranks businesses based on star ratings.

Take Negative Reviews Seriously

In most cases, people who leave negative reviews aren’t out to defame you. They merely want to express their opinion about the experience. Take these reviews seriously because they may reveal an area of your business that could benefit from an improvement.

Encourage Customer Reviews

To offset the impact of a negative customer review, encourage customers to leave reviews.

Put signs or table toppers in your place of business for review sites you want to promote. Add a note to invoices or receipts asking customers to leave a review. If you email customers, ask them to share their feedback. These are subtle ways to encourage reviews from good customers.

Share Reviews with Your Employees

Make sure everyone in your company is aware of the reviews you’ve received, both positive and negative. Not only will that help you prevent a negative review in the future, but it will also build a customer-centric mindset among your employees.