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How To Handle Negative Reviews

It is difficult to see negative things said about a business you put so much of your time, energy, heart, and soul into. Despite the urge, do not immediately respond to a negative review.

In order to best rectify a bad situation caused by a negative review follow the steps below:

1. Stay Professional Not Emotional - 'Think before you speak' is a good rule of thumb, especially when your business's reputation is at hand. While it is important to respond quickly to a negative review, an immediate reaction will usually result in an emotional response. An emotional response could cause a further negative impact, which is the opposite of your response's goal. It is important to breathe and gather your thoughts so you can remain professional. Take a step back to strategize, to find a way to best formulate a response to rectify the situation.

2. Research the Authenticity - After you have relaxed and can proceed without emotion, look further into the bad review to verify its legitimacy. There are times where other companies will try to bring down their competition by leaving false negative reviews. A bored internet troll could be targeting random businesses. Or maybe a customer/client/patient left the review for your business by mistake when it was meant for another company with a similar name. Do your research first and validate the authenticity of the comment. Whether or not the review is fake will establish if any action, beyond a response, is required, such as flagging for removal. A quick and professional response is required either way, but the validity of the review determines the content of the response.

3. Issue a Response - It is important to respond, and respond quickly, to a negative review. Prospects are looking at these reviews to determine if your business is right for them, and how you handle customer complaints will show your prospects your level of customer service. Handling negative reviews correctly, even those found to be fake, will show potential clients/patients/customers that you are prompt, professional and care about customer satisfaction.

But how about a Negative Review that's fake Fake?

Acknowledge it - Even if you have found that the complaint is fake, pointing fingers is never viewed highly. Apologize and acknowledge the complaint at hand.

Unable to Verify - Write that you cannot find them in your records, that you want to find a solution, but in order to best rectify the situation you need them to contact you to verify their information. Leave your contact information. This way you are able to show prospects the review is most likely fake without having to flat out say it.

Flag - Google reviews allows you to flag those that are found to be inappropriate in some way, like fake reviews. You can also call Google or fill out a legal removal request form. All these attempts are to remove the false negative review, however that does not always happen. It is important to acknowledge fake reviews in a way to bring light to their probable falsity while highlighting your prompt customer service, for those occurrences where fake reviews are not removed.

Apologize- Do not make excuses. You need to express genuine regret for their negative experience.

Rectify - Tell the customer that you want to make it up to them and leave your contact information. You can decide to give refund, a free product or service, a discount or gift card for a future visit, whatever you believe will rectify their negative experience.

Be Grateful- Thank the customer for their review and for bringing attention to an issue that needs to be fixed. Whether they had an issue with an employee, a product, or a service, they brought light to a problem and you need to be grateful for that and show you have plans to remedy the issue so it does not happen again.

Update Review - Did you refund or rectify the situation in some manner with the customer? If so, it is best to go back to the negative review and comment about how you are glad the situation has been resolved, and once again thank them for bringing light to an issue that needed to be fixed. Some customers who leave negative reviews will go back to the review and update with their new satisfied result and change their rating, but either way, an update shows prospects that your customer service is more than just talk, you follow through with solutions.

4. Repair the Problem

Valid negative reviews stem from valid issues, and the negative reviews are not the only matter that needs to be addressed. There are times where you or the reviewer was having an off day to create the negative experience. But if you continue to see the same type of bad view such as about your customer service, wait time, or an issue with a product, then it is no longer the reviewers' problem, it is yours. Take a step back and evaluate your service or product and take the reviews as constructive criticism to improve, and then make actual steps to remedy those concerns.

It may not be possible to remove all fake reviews from being seen by prospects, or even fully rectify a bad situation with a response. As long as you take the steps towards your reputation management in a genuine and professional manner you will be able to minimize the damage done by a bad review. Taking a thoughtful approach to listen and understand concerns and then taking further steps to correct any issues your business has, helps ensure customer satisfaction. If you and your business take negative reviews into consideration and apply them to bettering your business, soon the positive reviews will so greatly outnumber the negative that one bad review will no longer have a concerning impact.

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