Negative reviews are a reality of the digital landscape. You’ll get a few, and that’s not all bad. Here’s how to handle them.
Recently, a roofing client emailed our reputation management team the draft of a response to a negative review he wrote.
For reasons of decency, we cannot show you this email.
Needless to say, the business owner had an emotional reaction to a review he thought was unfair. The language would have fit into a Quentin Tarantino film.
He almost made a huge mistake, but fortunately we stopped him before he posted it.
At first, he wanted to know why we recommended against this response. He’d been wronged, after all. This review sucked, and the reviewer deserved an unflinching response.
Maybe so. But the problem, we explained, was that his response wasn’t just for the reviewer. It was for every potential client who would check out his reviews in the future.
Reviews Are Public Marketing Material
The main thing you need to take away from this article is the lesson the roofer learned. When you respond to reviews, you’re not responding to the reviewer.
Instead, you’re creating marketing content that should – like all marketing content – help your business.
In other words, the roofer didn’t need to tell this client to go to hell. He needed to:
- Acknowledge the feelings of the customer and apologize for the situation.
- Mention the customer by name.
- Clarify any circumstances that may have attributed to the issue, particularly if they were unusual or beyond control.
- Make an earnest offer to rectify the situation.
- Have a call to action to contact his business and discuss the matter off the review platform.
Here’s an example crafted by one of reputation mangers that shows how this looks from an airport shuttle service:
We want to emphasize the last point. It’s definitely worth it to respond to negative reviews, but in our experience, if the conversation needs to be escalated, take it offline.
Even as you write with a professional tone and rectify the problem, you don’t want to detail those interactions on a review platform. Instead, find common ground so you have a basis for resolution.
If that goes well, ask the customer give a positive update to the review.
Also, don’t ever admit anything that could create liability issues in a review response. We live in a litigious society, so never put something in writing that could be used against.
Write a courteous, concise response that shows you want to make things right. End it with that and deal with any further issues offline.
The Good Side of Bad Reviews
The roofer was hot under the collar not only because he didn’t feel he deserved the negative review he got, he felt he should never get a negative review.
This guy is proud of his work and customer service. If there’s ever an issue, he thinks it’s because the customer had unrealistic expectations.
The truth is this business owner is a little biased. Today, every business gets a few negative reviews. And we can all benefit from an occasional reality check.
But for marketing, it goes beyond this. Today, having some negative reviews will help your conversion rates.
Today’s consumers see a business with a perfect review profile as too good to be true. We all know nobody’s perfect, so we get suspicious of the business that looks that way. We figure they manipulated their reviews, which in itself creates suspicion.
So don’t worry about an occasional negative review. When you respond as we suggest here, it will actually give you more street cred.
Tips On Reputation Management
Our roofer has something important going for him. He does solid work. He pleases his customers.
Today, most business reputations reflect the quality the business provides. Do good work and your review profile will largely take care of itself, with a couple of considerations.
If you’re a newer business and you don’t have many (or any) reviews, you need to make an active effort to solicit reviews. Here are some tips on getting more reviews.
Also, you’ll need to solicit more positive reviews if you have any severe negative reviews that are hurting your lead generation. Even when you do a good job of responding to negatives, too many are detrimental to your sales. Work on pushing them down with current positives.
If you get a negative review that’s off the rails, ignore it. Some people just like to complain and will make unfair assertions. Consumers are better at picking out and disregarding these types of reviews, so no need to dignify them with a response.
If you need help getting reviews to work in your favor, considering using reputation management services. These pros will monitor your online reputation, get more positive reviews, and respond to reviews.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore your reputation. It will impact your business one way or another. How is up to you.