The way we receive negative reviews is changing, just like our world. The old saying “Word of Mouth” has turned into “Word of Mouse.” Online reviews are a great way for potential customers to get an inside peek at others’ experiences at a business. It is important that businesses manage a good reputation online, and this includes how they react to a negative review.
When responding to negative online reviews it is important to follow a few simple guidelines while doing so in a timely manner. As much as business owners would love to respond in a defensive manner, remember that “the customer is always right.”
It’s inevitable that your business will receive a not-so-favorable review online throughout the course of the business’s lifetime. When this happens, it is important to approach the review in a professional manner that allows other customers to see that your business takes the time to resolve issues with customers. Specifically responding to Google reviews can be done through GMB. Google My Business is a platform where business owners can claim their business and therefore have access to respond to reviews.
We have found the following steps can lead to handling negative reviews.
Step #1: Acknowledge the Issue
When responding to a customer, it is important that the customer (as well as everyone reading the review/response) understands that you are on the same page as the person who left the negative review.
Example: “Thank you for providing your feedback and letting us know about this issue with the product.”
Step #2: Apologize to the Customer
Although it’s not always easy, apologizing to the customer can deescalate the issue. Remember, you don’t have to take fault for the problem, but you can apologize that their experience was below expectations. This isn’t admitting to making a mistake, it’s simply showing empathy for a customer regardless if you were right or wrong.
Example: “We apologize that our service did not satisfy your expectations. We set a high standard for ourselves and are truly sorry to hear that standard was not met in your interaction with our business. Your happiness is our number one priority”.
Step #3: Provide an Explanation (if necessary)
If there is a reason why a mistake was made, for example being the electricity was out in the building so phones weren’t working at the time, it can be beneficial to explain the situation. This may bring some understanding to the upset customer. It may also show them
Example: “Our entire team apologizes for the miscommunication that took place when scheduling your service appointment. We experienced a serious technical issue with our scheduling software, which caused us to lose valuable information about our upcoming appointments. As a result, we did not meet our scheduled service window at your home.”
Step #4: Compensation Offer (if necessary)
Sometimes when dealing with an unsatisfied customer, it can be a quick fix to offer compensation for what happened. This does NOT mean bribing them. Remember, you always want to be ethical, especially when publically dealing with controversy.
Example: “We’d be happy to offer you a free meal on us the next time you visit our restaurant”
Step #5: Encourage Customer to Take Discussion Offline
People can be more disagreeable when typing online than they may act in person or on the phone. Asking to resolve the issue over the phone may help defuse the situation. If on the phone, remember to stay calm and professional, even if the customer starts arguing. In most cases, this will give you and the customer a great opportunity to talk through the issue and hopefully discover a resolution.
Example: “Please contact me on my cell phone at 555-555-5555. I am the Manager at the store and want to make sure you have a positive experience at ABC Pharmacy.”
All Put Together
Dear [NAME OF REVIEWER], thanks for sharing your feedback. We’re sorry your experience didn’t match your expectations. It was an uncommon instance and we’ll do better in the future. Please reach out to [INSERT CONTACT INFORMATION] with any further comments, concerns, or suggestions you wish to share. We would like to provide you with discounted services to make up for this instance. We would love to make things right if you give us another chance. – John Smith Manager at ABC Pharmacy
When Offline, Encourage The Customer to Remove the Review
If you have successfully resolved the issue, first of all, congratulations! This is a big win. What we ultimately want is for the customer to be satisfied, and for the customer to remove the negative review. It is in your best interest to politely ask the customer to remove the review, so your online review score isn’t negatively impacted.