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4 Steps to Handling Negative Customer Reviews Successfully

Published: 19th December 2019

If you run a business, it’s important that you understand how to deal with negative online reviews. Web-based review platforms mean that bad write-ups stick around for a long time if nothing is done to rectify the complaints they contain.

Many of your potential will customers research businesses online before visiting. Studying reviews is a major part of this.

Low star-ratings can take your average score down, and 57% of people will now only trust companies with 4 stars or less. This means that negative reviews and low star-ratings can have a severe impact on your business’s reputation – and therefore its success.

The number of review platforms – including social media – is always growing, and with this sheer quantity comes a greater likelihood that your business will at some point fall foul of a bad review, however hard you may try to avoid one.

When this occurs, what matters is how you respond.

In this article, we’ve created the ultimate guide on how to handle negative business reviews in a way that will rectify the problem and improve your image.

Responding to negative reviews

Owners of large and small businesses alike can testify to the level of damage a bad review can cause. It’s important to remember that your company would not exist without its customers – so their opinion of you means everything.

If you see that a negative review has been left, it is important to act quickly.

Acknowledgement and apology

While it may be important to gather evidence in order to work out what exactly happened to cause a complaint, responsible business owners should never wait more than 48 hours before responding to negative reviews.

The first step in any response should be to acknowledge that there was a problem with a product or service you’ve provided and offer a heartfelt apology.

Next, explain that you are going to take steps to rectify the problem and/or compensate the reviewer in order to resolve the issue.

Try to continue the conversation with the reviewer via email instead of the review platform so that you can go into detail and have a more comprehensive conversation.

Decisive action

After working out what went wrong to cause the complaint, decide how it might be best to fix the problem.

You may need to revise some of your approaches and make internal changes to prevent the problem from happening again.

You may also need to compensate the reviewer – for example, by offering them a free meal in your restaurant to make up for the bad experience they had there previously (and to showcase the improvements you’ve made in quality and customer service in the meantime).

Ask for removal

Once you have done all you can to fix the issues mentioned in the bad review and compensate the reviewer if necessary, you should try to reach out to them once more.

This time, you could take time to ask if they’ve noticed the changes you’ve made or enjoyed their compensation – and, if they have, if they’d mind removing the review they originally left.

Work to attract positive reviews

The best way to undo any damage caused by negative feedback is to try and double down on the number of positive reviews you receive.

This is especially important if any negative reviewers have refused to remove their comments, as responses from happy customers will help to pull your average up once more.

Furthermore, it will prove that you’ve taken into account what was said, made changes and come out swinging.

Making improvements, as mentioned above, will help you to achieve this. You can also use new methods to request reviews, such as asking for them in person or sending a follow-up text or email (in line with GDPR legislation).

Negative reviews for your business can cause serious problems. It’s vital that business owners do everything they can to rectify the problems mentioned in a timely manner. To recap, this should involve:

  • An honest and apologetic response acknowledging the problem and promising to fit it
  • Positive action and the revision of approaches and processes to ensure the issue is resolved and doesn’t happen again
  • A friendly request for the reviewer to remove their comments once the problem has been rectified
  • A push to achieve more positive reviews

The best way to plan for negative reviews is to lay out a clear process that should always be followed. Try to ensure that only one or two senior members of staff are in charge of responding to reviews so that the approach and tone of voice remains the same.

By following all of the above steps, the impact of negative reviews on your business can be easily managed.

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Updated on August 13, 2020

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