For service industries like restaurants, dentists, and even agencies like Curve, receiving a negative review can be a setback to your marketing strategy and your trustworthiness as a company.
It might be tempting to just ignore these reviews, but even one unanswered negative review projects a poor image of your business for everyone to see. Think of it from the customer’s point of view. If they see a review of your restaurant with complaints about sluggish service, terrible food, and expensive prices, they might think twice about coming to visit, even if positive ones surround it, especially if the company makes no effort to respond or fix the situation.
A report in 2013 by Marketing Land showed that 58% of people were likely to share a negative review compared to five years ago, and you can bet that number has gone up since then.
So how should you deal with it?
- Respond to the negative review as soon as possible
A quick response shows that you genuinely care about the experience. Don’t leave any negative reviews lingering for too long.
- Apologize for the bad experience
Even if it wasn’t your fault, apologize. Make sure to personalize this apology (and the whole message) to the individual; don’t just copy and paste the response from a past review. This adds authenticity and shows the reviewer that you are respecting them.
- Thank them for their feedback
Their bad experience might be a one-time occurrence, or it could require a deeper look into a systemic problem. If multiple reviewers are reporting the same issue (long waits, poor service, etc.) then you need to investigate.
- Let them know you will look into the matter
As always, be as genuine as possible. Don’t fall into the trap of blaming the victim. Instead, look at how you can genuinely use the review to improve your business. Avoid being confrontational or argumentative.
- Leave a number or an email address and take the discussion offline
Pull the conversation away from the review site as soon as possible. If the situation gets messy (the customer remains angry or isn’t satisfied), it would be best for it to happen in private.
What should you avoid doing?
- Taking the whole thing personally
Trust us, we get it. You pour your heart and soul (and money!) into your business to make it successful, and seeing someone criticizing all the hard work you’re doing is very frustrating. However, now more than ever, you need to keep cool your head and stay professional. Clearly, the reviewer had a negative experience and it’s your job to make it right.
- Hiding behind “Company Policy”
Be flexible in how you deal with negative feedback. There’s no faster way to alienate (and sometimes infuriate) an unhappy customer by shrugging your shoulders and telling them there’s nothing you can do because of “company policy.”
The unfortunate thing is that finding and handling negative reviews takes a lot of time and labour. Curve’s new Online Digital Reputation Management Package automatically identifies and replies to all negative reviews on your behalf.