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How to Handle Bad Reviews of Your Brand

No matter what kind of business you run, there’s probably at least one negative review about it online. But that’s okay. Every brand is bound to get a bad review at some point. What matters is how you handle it. Here’s how to proceed after you spot a bad online review about your business.

Respond Right Away

It may be tempting to ignore negative reviews about your brand. But they won’t just disappear if you pretend they aren’t there, and the longer they go unaddressed, the worse it looks for your business. This is why you need to respond quickly, at least within 48 hours.

In fact, over two-thirds of consumers want a response the same day, and 42% expect businesses to reply within one hour. This is why many companies appoint one person or even an entire department to respond to bad reviews, whether on social media pages or on review sites like Yelp. You might want to do the same if you are having trouble responding to reviews within a day or two.

Don’t Get Defensive

It’s common to get upset when you see a bad review, especially when you don’t think your business was to blame in the situation. For example, maybe a customer is complaining that your business didn’t sell him or her a product that you don’t actually carry. Or perhaps you even wonder if the review is authentic or simply a competitor out to damage your reputation.

Either way, resist the urge to fire back with your own opinion of the situation. Even if you’re right, you will end up looking mean, unprofessional, and vindictive. This will scare off any readers considering your business, and it could lead to negative press if a publisher or popular social media figure decides to make it go viral. Remember Amy’s Baking Company from Kitchen Nightmares? Pretty much every response the owners gave to the bad reviews is an example of how not to reply! Maybe that’s one reason it’s closed now.

Be Sincere

Instead of arguing with reviewers, start out by apologizing for their experience. But make sure it sounds sincere, not passive aggressive or robotic. For instance, avoid saying “I’m sorry you didn’t understand the sign we clearly posted.” Also, don’t write the same exact apology in response to every review. It won’t sound sincere at all, and people will probably call you out for it.

You can say “I’m sorry you had this experience” or “I sincerely apologize that you were disappointed in our service.” Then emphasize how important it is that your customers leave happy with their experience with your business. Don’t forget to thank reviewers for their feedback at the end of your response.

Offer a Solution

In most cases, you can work with the customer to solve the problem. This usually means inviting him or her to contact you by email or phone in order to discuss the issue. This way, you can provide a refund or replacement item when necessary, or at least a coupon for the next visit.

Sometimes you can’t do anything to change the customer’s experience, such as when they didn’t spend any money so you can’t offer a refund, or they claim they won’t use your business again, making a coupon useless to them. In that case, you can at least apologize for the experience and let them know that you will work to prevent the same issue from occurring again, whether this involves training staff members better or improving a certain process.

Appreciate the Value of a Bad Review

Believe or not, getting a bad review of your brand can be good in some ways. First, as some experts point out, reviews that are less than perfect can signal to readers that the reviews are authentic. If you have all great reviews, people might start to get suspicious that you paid someone to write them, or even that you yourself wrote most of them. People realize that no business is perfect all the time, so having zero negative reviews can look questionable.

Another upside to bad reviews is that they give you an opportunity to find out how you can improve your business. Without reviews, you wouldn’t know what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. And as you have likely noticed, most reviewers don’t hold back when describing their disappointments with businesses, especially online. You probably wouldn’t get the same honest, direct feedback if you were to ask customers in person, making online reviews especially valuable. Just make sure you take note of what people tend to be upset about when it comes to your business, and then fix those issues.

How have you handled bad reviews of your business?