5 Ways to Publicly Respond to a Bad Online Review

By: Mahnoor Awan

In this digital age, an online review can spread like wildfire. According to 2015 survey findings by a UK based search company, 92% of consumers read online reviews and 40% of them base their opinions by reading the first few reviews. This means, if a bad review is up in the top three, it could have a negative impact on your company. One way to combat a negative review is to respond to it.
The way you respond to a bad review will directly affect your business’ reputation. So, it’s important that your message is informative rather than reactionary.
Do you remember Amy’s Baking Company who appeared on Kitchen Nightmares? Instead of responding to bad reviews with a level head, they ended up arguing and threatening customers online.

Well, don’t worry, they’re closed now! Just so you don’t end up like them, we have put together a few guiding points for you to consider before you respond to your customers’ negative comments.
  1. Don’t be Defensive

    If you read a bad review for your company, naturally you will be upset or even angry. Your first response could possibly be to justify the situation and state all the reasons why the upset customer is wrong. This may lead to an online argument, and could eventually turn ugly, in turn making your company look bad for potential customers.

    So, the very first thing you can do is to cool down and be calm, instead of responding immediately with the first thing that comes to your head. (Especially with the way the Twitter community doesn’t waste a minute to call a company out for their bad behavior, it is really important to stay calm and collected.)

    Don’t be defensive, but tackle the situation with a level-headed attitude and an open mind because this could be an opportunity for your company to better itself. This leads to our next point.

  2. Take Negative Comments Seriously

    Another important thing that you shouldn’t be doing is ignoring a bad review. It is already unfortunate enough that someone had a bad experience with your company. Most of the customers are not out there to ruin the reputation of your company. They genuinely want to express their concerns or opinions about their experience.

    Investigate the situation the customer is talking about. Give merit to your customer’s experience. This could actually be an opportunity for the company to treat it as a learning experience. The negative comment could actually shed light to a particular problem in an area of your company that you may not be aware of, and because of that comment, now you can make some changes.

  3. Here is an example of a customer experiencing a technical issue with Zipcar and how they responded:
  4. Be Polite and Professional

    When responding to the customer, make sure your tone is polite and professional. It is important to be emotionally intelligent and not take the comments personally.

    Respond in such a way that makes you look in control and not shaken by what people have to say (even if you are and you feel like screaming and crying!). Start with thanking them for taking out the time to provide you with valuable feedback for the product/service they received. State the company’s broad goals and objectives, and how you will take the customer’s feedback into consideration, to try and improve to avoid such situations in the future.

    Here is an example of how a restaurant in Bloomington, Indiana, responded to a customer’s review by stating the company’s mission statement, while also sincerely apologizing.
  5. Empathize

    When a customer writes a bad review, quite often they just want to express all the hardships they had to go through, when they were actually expecting something completely different. Instead of just stating facts of what went wrong with the situation, try to understand the customer’s point of view.

    Empathize with them or their situation, responding with phrases like, “that would make me really upset too” or “I would be frustrated too.” And definitely apologize. Be sincere with your apologies. Sometimes all a customer needs is understanding and apology and it will make them happy.
  6. Offer An Incentive

  7. In the end of your response, if possible, offer a recourse action or incentive that the company could offer to the dissatisfied customer. It could include a refund, a discount, or coupon for future purchases. Here is an example of how Jet Blue Airways responded to a customer’s negative review with a free upgrade.

All in all, receiving a bad review isn’t the end of the world. A bad review won’t make or break your business but it’s important to respond and show that you are paying attention to the customer’s wants and needs.

However, before responding to a review, make sure you know the guidelines for the online review site. Quite often, if the review does not meet the proper guidelines, like for instance it has profane language, they delete it themselves.

If you feel like the review is not written by a customer themselves, or is defamatory, you can contact the online review site to get it removed. Keep in mind that this does take time.

Interested in how you can create and manage reviews for your business? We can help. Contact Uponline about our Reputation Management Services.