Small Business Guide to Negative Reviews

By Kala Halbert

Okay business owners –  you’re sitting on your couch on a Sunday evening, thinking about the week ahead and you decide to pull up Yelp to see if there are any new reviews from the busy past weekend. First one’s good, next is better and then BAMpunch right to the gut.

A long-winded rant from an angry customer telling you, and the public, to never do business with the company you have spent years building. Naturally, your first reaction is defensive and you want to set the record straight for all internet users to see, right?

Wrong – and let us tell you why.

 There’s Truth in Their Lies

For many small business owners, negative reviews can feel like a personal attack. But before you go on the defensive publically, breathe deep. Then, take a moment to understand why this person has written a negative review. Although you may encounter a malicious comment every now and again, most reviews are simply an account of a customer’s experience and are meant to be helpful not hurtful.

As a business owner, complaints are opportunities to improve your business for future customers.

A Better Response to a Negative Review

When it comes time to respond to your customers concerns, there are many factors to consider. Firstly, you need to decide whether your response is going to be public or private. We suggest a combination of both. Here is an example of a great public response:

Thank you for taking the time to review your experience with us as we are always looking for opportunities for improvement. We are very sorry to hear that our service was unsatisfactory and would love to have the opportunity to discuss it with you further. Please contact us at 800-222-2222 at your earliest convenience.

Simple, sincere, asks the customer to contact you and shows other readers that you care enough to extend the olive branch.

If the reviewer reaches out to you, it is important to be genuine, respectful and sympathetic to their concerns. The goal of the conversation is to build rapport and get a second chance with the customer. The last thing you want is to engage in a combative conversation that turns an unsatisfied customer into an internet troll.

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