How to Respond to Negative Online Reviews

Negative online reviews can cause potential customers to use other services, which harms your online reputation and the company’s profits. If your business has received a bad online review, here are some steps you can take to manage the problem and minimise the damage. 

Best practices to reply to negative reviews

Every freelancer or local business owner will face a negative review sooner or later. The first thing to do to limit the damage is to respond.

Responding to negative reviews is, first and foremost, a good way to secure your online reputation. Responding professionally shows users and potential customers your business ethics and how much you value their opinion. Indeed, even angry customers want to feel heard and have their opinions also respected. 

But how do you respond in these cases? Here are the golden rules for responding to negative reviews:

  • Respond quickly

Try to respond within 24 hours of the review being posted. Make the customer feel that their experience and feedback are a priority for you. 

  • Apologise and take responsibility

The “customer is always right” rule applies here. This approach will dampen the controversy and calm the customer down, making them more willing to find a solution. 

  • Explain if necessary

Depending on the experience and the type of complaint, the customer deserves an explanation. Don’t justify what happened, explain what happened. Don’t give the impression that you are making excuses. Instead, clarify why the mistakes were made.

  • Take the discussion private

Suggest continuing the conversation in private. Contact the person by phone or email. If the customer is still angry, it’s best to let them air their grievances away from prying eyes. Try to get more information about the problem and offer a good solution.

Did you know?
Responding to customer reviews positively influences the visibility of your Google listing. Replying to customers makes Google’s algorithm perceive your profile as trustworthy and legitimate. In fact, the search results displayed on the first page are precisely those that Google considers most trustworthy for its users. 

Advice #1: Ask privately for the negative review to be removed 

Good service to a dissatisfied customer can change their mind. Customers want to feel heard. Once you have taken the discussion privately, let the customer vent about their negative experience. 

Be kind, try to empathise with them, and reassure them that the problem they have encountered will not happen again. If at the end of the conversation you feel that tones have calmed down and you have found a satisfactory solution, you can politely ask the customer to remove or change their negative criticism. 

Do not pressure them to change their mind. Calmly explain to them the impact negative reviews can have on your business and give them time to think about deleting what they have written.

Advice #2: Hide negative reviews among many positive reviews

If you cannot convince the customer to remove the negative review, try to hide it. Indeed, a negative review will be much harder to find amidst a flood of positive reviews. 

However, customers don’t always leave reviews online spontaneously, so try to encourage them to do so. There are many ways to get more positive reviews. By word of mouth, text message, or QR code. Don’t hesitate to ask satisfied customers to leave you a review using their social media or Google account.

Did you know?
Customers often look suspiciously at companies with only positive reviews. Therefore, a negative review is not always linked with disaster. Your customers are aware that it’s normal to make an error as it’s humane and can happen even to the best companies.

Advice #3: Report negative reviews if they are inappropriate

As a last resort, you can report the negative review and ask for it to be removed from the platform. However, you should note that not all reported reviews will be automatically removed. 

You cannot report a review just because you disagree with what it says. Report a review only if it is truly inappropriate, e.g. racist or offensive content, incitement to violence, or spam. 

Google My Business and other review sites will examine your request and will only remove the review if it violates the platform’s guidelines.

Most online review sites do not allow you to remove reviews left by other users. Only the author of the review and the platform used can remove a review from your company profile.

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