Negative reviews can be a difficult pill to swallow when you’re the one putting all the effort into your business. It doesn’t mean you need to take every negative review seriously & beat yourself for not being perfect. However, remember every negative outcome has a positive opportunity. Don’t let the negative opinion of someone affect who you are as an individual. Instead, detach yourself from your business & have a neutral examination of what’s really going on. There might be hidden patterns in your process/method/attitude that can be improved and immediately impact the quality of service you provide. We should instead take the opportunity we have to perfect our business & serve the people better. The next clients will be grateful for the results of all the compounded improvements you’ve made to your business.
Why negative reviews matter
When someone posts a negative review about your business, it can feel like an attack on everything you've worked for, and it's easy to let those feelings lead you to lash out with anger. But there is another way to deal with these situations: by remaining calm and respectful and using the review as an opportunity to learn from what the customer has said. Reviews are also a great way to get feedback from customers on how they liked or didn't like something.
Data by ReviewTrackers on customer experience analytics cite legal services, real estate, financial services, and education as the industries with the lowest positive value-based reviews.
- Legal services: 67% are negative value-based reviews
- Real estate: 64.3% are negative value-based reviews
- Education: 63.6% are negative value-based reviews
- Financial services: 59.5% are negative value-based reviews
When it comes to negative reviews, it's important to keep in mind that there's rarely such a thing as a "bad review," and if there is one, it's almost always fixable. The fact that someone used their precious time and attention to talk about how they felt about what you did for them means that they were impacted by your work on some level. Even if the review is mostly negative, it means that you have failed to meet whatever the customer's expectations were—and failing to meet customers' expectations is an opportunity to improve and do better next time. The following are other ways how to deal with negative reviews about your business.
Reflect on the negative feedback
In order to make sure that you're doing the best that you can for your customers and your business, it's important to reflect on what kind of feedback you're getting. When you read a negative review about your company, take some time to analyze it with an open mind and decide if there is anything you can learn from it. There's always a lesson to learn and a detail we can improve.
Whether it's a bad Yelp review, an email from someone who was dissatisfied with your product, or a letter to the editor of a newspaper or magazine, it can be difficult—even painful—to hear that someone had a less-than-satisfactory experience with you. But as upsetting as it might be to hear negative feedback, it's important to take some time and consider what that person is saying. Maybe it is was said upon frustration over things that went on during their day that has nothing to do with your company. It can also probably be something valid that you genuinely have to address.
The best thing you can do for negative reviews is to provide an immediate response. This shows the reviewer that you are aware and responsive to what they are saying and that you care about improving the quality of your business. Quickly ask what went wrong so you can take steps towards fixing it and then thank them for bringing it to your attention. Your goal is just to acknowledge that you heard what they had to say and are going to work towards making improvements where possible. If you respond in a timely fashion, you let them know that you've heard them and care about their needs.
Respond calmly and politely
There's always something to be said for humanizing yourself and your business in an authentic way—particularly in situations where you're trying to build up goodwill before asking for the business. First, make sure you're calm. It's easy to get emotional when reading a review that attacks your business, but the worst thing you can do is respond to somebody in an angry or condescending tone. Make sure you're thinking rationally and that you're factoring any extenuating circumstances into the conversation.
Remember that the person who wrote it is still one of your customers. Remember that you're trying to win over customers here—if someone is upset enough to lash out on the internet, chances are they're upset enough to jump ship and go somewhere else. But if you reach out calmly and address the issue directly and kindly, there's a good chance to turn even a bad review into free advertising!
Have a custom response for each
If you've handled negative reviews in the past by responding with what feels like a canned response, it can be tempting to just keep doing what works—but if it's not working well for you anymore, it's time for a change.
Online reviews are another form of communication between consumers and businesses, and they deserve the same thoughtful attention that any other communication does. You don't have to agree with someone's opinion to respond respectfully and if you do disagree, it is always important to do so politely. While you may not agree with the reviewer, you can still be empathetic toward their experience. Upset customers may feel even more upset when they receive a robotic, automated reply as they see with others. It is then important to respond in a manner tailored fit to their needs.
Solve complicated issues in private
By taking action privately instead of ignoring the issue or getting angry back at them publicly (which will only add fuel to the fire), you're taking responsibility for your business' shortcomings and allowing yourself time to find a solution before responding.
To deal with negative reviews, try to understand what caused them by speaking directly with the customer who left the review. If that person left their contact information, give them a call or send them an email explaining your side of the situation and asking for a private conversation to resolve the issue. This will help you learn exactly what caused the bad experience and will also show you're willing to take responsibility for any mistakes on your part while showing your good faith in resolving it. If they don't reach out to you or if they're unresponsive, post a response publicly explaining what happened and how you plan on handling it. This can serve as an apology to anyone who read the initial review and felt misled by it.
Go above and beyond
The ideal thing you should do is address their concerns as best you can. If they are unhappy, you should do what you can to make it right. To help customers feel heard, it's important to respond to reviews with a level of empathy that shows you hear what they're saying and that you're taking their concerns seriously. This doesn't mean you should take their side and apologize for something that wasn't your fault; instead, acknowledge their feelings while also pointing out ways they can come away from the experience better than they were before.
It's important not just to act as quickly as possible, but also to be humble. This person just told you something true about your business that isn't ideal; admitting that you’re not perfect and that you wish it wasn't will go a long way toward making them feel heard and valued—if they take your business seriously enough to write a review of it, then you should take them seriously enough to respond to their concerns.
Going above and beyond begins with acknowledging and listening to their sentiments, to provide an immediate resolution that will leave them satisfied with your service. This is key to turning this setback into an opportunity to showcase your excellent customer service.
When you work so closely on your business, it can be difficult to see flaws in your process. And the thing is, there will always be flaws in any business. Things that are broken, suboptimal, and imprecise. Don't feel like you were wronged by the negative review—it happens to everyone. The important part is to take these problems seriously and use them as an opportunity to improve your service, which will make your next client experience even better than before.