9 Tips for How to Respond to Negative Reviews

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9 Tips for How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Posted on December 7, 2018 by Danny Leffel

Even when you aren’t expecting them and certainly aren’t wanting them, they can happen: negative reviews. Most companies have received at least one negative review in their lifetime, and most have seen many more than that. No matter the business or industry, bad reviews are part for the course. Still, the first time you read a negative review of your company can be a scary, frustrating, anxiety-inducing moment.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to ensure you’re prepared for that first bad review — and any others you receive after that. When it comes to your response, you’ve got options. The tips below will walk you through the process of forming an appropriate response.

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1. Be Real

You got your first bad review, and you can’t quite figure out how to respond. You type in a response message, but it ends up sounding like a bot. Don’t send that message! Complaining customers want to feel like people. More than anything, they are looking for attention and care. The more authentic, conversational, and honest you can be, the better. Even though the screen might feel like a barrier, you can work to build a real relationship through your words.

Instead of, “Thank you for your review. We hope your next experience is a positive one,” try a response like “Thank you, [name of customer], for your feedback! We are so sorry to hear that your experience did not meet your expectations — or ours. We are going to look into the issue and will be in touch. Thanks again for letting us know.” Don’t be afraid to speak to the specific complaint. That way, the customer will know you are listening.

2. Don’t Just Respond — Make a Change

Sure, a customer might appreciate a response to their negative review. But no one wants a canned response, and a lackluster apology certainly won’t win you any repeat customers. Instead of typing up a response and calling it a day, see if there’s anything you can do to actually resolve the issue, even in a small way. This will let customers know that you actually value their feedback, not just the star rating they might give you.

Instead of simply filing away the comment, make a change. Then reach out to let the customer know about the solution. For example, if a customer put their name in at the host stand but was never called for a table, follow up to let them know that you did a re-training with the hosts, or that you started using a new seating system.

3. Stay Calm

Never let your emotions get the best of you! Though you might be feeling upset, you should not let those feelings transfer to the customer or to your response. Keep your words cool, calm, and collected. You always want to keep it confident and professional. That way, the customer builds trust in your team and your business.

4. Keep Your Team in the Loop

If you receive a particularly bad or viral review, you will want to let your employees and teammates know. Customers might ask or make comments about the review. You will want to be sure that your entire business family is on the same page when it comes to a thoughtful response.

Maybe you put up a tongue-in-cheek sign addressing the review, or give workers a suggestion for a witty response when asked about the review. The more you can communicate with your team, the more they will feel as though you have their backs, which will lead them to deliver the best and most appropriate response themselves.

Use the Crew app to keep your entire team in the loop about what happened and how it might affect them. With Crew, you can connect with your employees without the hassle of phone or email. Everyone who needs to be “in the know” will be — instantly.

5. Contact the Customer

If you decide to respond on the online site, you should also make a point of contacting the customer personally, if possible. One telephone call, email, or direct message through a review site can make all the difference in the world. The customer will feel as though he or she was heard, and sometimes, that’s all a person wants.

6. Affirm Their Concerns

Even if you disagree with a customer’s assessment of your business, try to find at least one aspect of their review with which you can empathize. “I understand,” “I hear you,” and “That sounds so frustrating” are simple phrases that go a long way when it comes to helping a customer feel heard and valued.

No matter what happened during their visit to your business, a customer wants to know that you are hearing and acknowledging them. For the best results, try using the LARA method. Beyond an apology, customers like to know that a business owner or manager has really listened to the reviewer’s point of view.

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7. Make a Timely Apology

When a customer is in the heat of the moment, emotions run high. You want to be sure to respond to those emotions within one to two days of the original review. Any longer, and the customer may have forgotten — and crossed your business off their list of places to visit or recommend. The faster you can get to the review and leave a response, the more it will seem as though customer relationships and reviews are your top priorities.

8. Offer to Make It Right

You don’t want to be giving out free products or services as a response to each review. A thoughtful offer, though, can make a huge difference. A deal on the customer’s next visit can help ensure that they try your business at least one more time. And sometimes, if the customer has had a particularly bad experience, the offer of a free meal, discount, or bonus product can turn a negative memory into a happy one.

9. Focus Your Response

Finally, keep your focus on responding to the review. This means ignoring unhelpful mental exercises in which you imagine all sorts of things the customer could be feeling/thinking/saying on the other side of the screen. Chances are, the customer let you know exactly how they feel and why they feel it. You can feel confident in your response to their words. Keep it simple, polite, apologetic, and authentic. You can’t go wrong with a thoughtful, well-worded response that directly addresses customer’s concerns.

If you’re ever reading a negative review and it makes you worry, just turn off that anxiety. There’s only one thing you need to do — respond! A multi-pronged response that includes a written reply, a personal check-in, an action step, and team communication is best. However, if all you have time for in the moment is a quickly-worded (yet thoughtful) online response, go for it. Some sort of reply is always better than none. In the meantime, review the above tips to make sure you’re prepared for the next review.

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