How to deal with bad online reviews

It happens to even the best of us – eventually, a disgruntled customer comes along and you get a one-star review.

There can be many downsides to receiving a one-star review. Reviews are highly influential, and customers will often check a review section before deciding where to make their purchase. Having a recent one-star review would definitely persuade a customer to shop elsewhere.

When you receive a negative online review, it can be difficult to know what to do. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to handle bad reviews in a professional manner, which won’t reflect badly on your business.

What to do when you get a bad online review:

1. Respond

Source: Vendasta

Some people decide the best type of action is to just ignore the negative review. After all, you don’t want to start a fight with someone on your social media page, so why not just ignore their comment?

Not responding to the comment can often make the situation worse. The reviewer will feel ignored, and you haven’t got any closer to resolving their issue. This can cause the person to write other comments or reviews, further damaging your business’ reputation.

Other customers will also see that you have failed to respond and address their concerns, which could influence their buying behaviour. To avoid this, make sure to respond to every review, and make sure to address any issues or concerns raised. After all, you don’t want to just acknowledge a problem happened, you want to resolve it too.  

There are exceptions to this rule. If someone is trolling, a frequent complainer, or using lots of offensive language, it is often better to simply remove the reviews.

2. Stay professional

When you feel like you’re being unfairly attacked, it’s often hard to remember to stay professional.

Remember when you’re responding that you should remain calm and understanding. You don’t want to end up in a fight with the reviewer. Try and put yourself in the reviewers shoes and understand where they’re coming from. If you go on the defensive, you risk damaging your reputation, as well as losing the customer forever. Often, a simple apology will suffice, and the customer will want to shop with your brand again. Check out this review of Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco for an example of a professional response which answers all of the reviewers points:

And the response:

Source: ReviewTrackers

The response to the reviews owns up to the mistakes that occurred, and lets the reviewer know they are already putting changes in place to improve their service. The review also ends with an invite for the reviewer to reach out and communicate with the business further if they have any questions.    

3. Private messaging

Source: Social Media Examiner

If the review is on a public platform such as Facebook, it is often a better idea to initially reply to the customer on your page, but indicate you will privately message them to resolve the issue. This means you’re taking the conversation out of the public eye, and no one will see any further negative comments. It will also make the customer feel more cared for and valued, as you won’t be sending a generic response while direct messaging. If necessary, you can even give the manager’s phone number to the customer so they can resolve the issue quicker and more personally. The customer will really care that you put the extra effort in to resolve their problem.

4. Don’t make excuses

Source: Review Trackers

You’ve just received a negative review. The last thing the reviewer wants to hear is excuses for your business’ behaviour. By all means, explain what has gone wrong, especially if it was out of your control. But excuses such as “we were short staffed” often don’t cut it. It’s often a better idea to offer an apology and offer a way to make it right or promise the company will take the criticism into consideration and improve.

5. Ask for the review to be removed

If you believe the post is false, posted by a competitor or breaks any site rules, you can always ask the site to remove the review. However, this should never be your number one strategy for dealing with negative reviews. Getting a negative post removed may not work – the site may disagree and consider the site ok. It may also be awhile before the site removes the review. Therefore, it’s best to only consider this in extreme circumstances, and consider implementing the other steps instead.  

6. Hire someone

Sometimes the best option is to hire a social media manager to run your social media accounts and respond to your online queries. After all, they are the ones who are qualified and have experience with social media. It also means they’re more removed from the situation. Because it’s not their business, a social media manager is less likely to get offended and write an angry response to a review. If you hire someone, just make sure to keep an eye on what reviews you are receiving, whether positive or negative.

7. Learn

Source: Business2Community

Every negative review is a great opportunity to learn. After all, they have highlighted something that is wrong, whether that be with the product, delivery or customer service. Take this opportunity to implement changes in your business so you can improve in the future.  

Remember to always respond to reviews, apologise and try and solve the issue, remain professional and try and learn something from the review. This way, you are sure to improve your product, service or customer experience, and receive more positive reviews in the future.