In this age of social media, receiving a negative review online can potentially be catastrophic for your brand. Word-of-mouth has always been a quick way to spread bad news, but this is even faster with technology, and if brands don’t respond promptly, a negative review can lead to long-lasting damage.
That’s the first thing you need to know about dealing with negative online reviews: a response is necessary 99 per cent of the time. Never respond to posts that are abusive or personal though – if they are particularly bad, you can report them directly via sites like Twitter and Facebook, or contact the police.
But for all of the other negative posts that you receive, how exactly should you respond?
The polite, professional, apologetic approach to negative online reviews
If you’ve spotted a less than favourable review of your business that includes some genuine concerns from the poster or they’ve made it clear that they expect a response, then it’s always best to adopt a polite and understanding approach.
In your reply, demonstrate that you’ve read their complaint thoroughly by using their own words back to them, just in a slightly rephrased manner. Be apologetic, letting them know that you’re sorry that they feel this way, using a professional and polite tone throughout.
Detail changes you are making to your operations to ensure the same issues won’t recur, or provide them with reassurance that this was a rare incident and you are taking steps to make sure the same never happens again.
Provide contact details should they wish to discuss the matter further with you, and let them know that they’ll always be welcomed back as a customer in the future, and that you hope to see them again.
Using a formal ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ at the beginning of your response and signing off with ‘Yours Sincerely’ will help to keep your exchange as professional and sincere as possible.
The witty approach
In some cases, a more light-hearted, witty response can be more appropriate, but it’s important to know exactly when this is the right approach to take.
Becoming known for a banterous attitude could see your brand go viral on the web and gain you more exposure, but you have to be really careful about when you employ this approach.
If a customer has posted a review that you think is ridiculous and feel confident enough to explain why, this type of reaction may be appropriate. However, if a poster has complained about something that you think needs investigating further, don’t even consider going down this route until you’re sure there’s nothing they should be complaining about.
Witty responses to reviews can often be seen on TripAdvisor, so have a browse through some of the site’s comments sections to see the kind of thing we mean. Just remember to never insult anyone’s appearance or say anything offensive or personal to them, but it is probably okay to poke fun at whatever they’ve said a little.
Twitter, with its succinct character limit for posts, allows brands to be a little more creative with their responses to reviews. Retweet positive ones you receive to showcase praise to your followers, but make sure to acknowledge negative posts too so it doesn’t look like you’re ignoring them.