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How to Respond to Negative Customer Reviews

Larry VanDenHandel on December 17, 2019

One of the scariest things that a business owner can probably experience is seeing negative reviews about your products and services. Regardless of your company’s efforts in maintaining the quality of your work, the fact that you can never please everybody still remains.

While no company wants to receive negative reviews, the truth of the matter is that these negative reviews add a degree of authenticity within the comments section, which unknowingly aids the business in building trust with its customers. In addition to that, potential buyers rely on negative reviews to decide which type of products would suit their needs.

However, when negative feedback is written unjustly, it would be easier to respond with your emotions getting ahead of your thoughts.

1. Whenever this happens, step away from the keyboard

Of course, you would feel like you are about to explode, most especially if the comment was written rudely. But letting your feelings dictate your response isn’t the best way to do it. You might not be able to control the way they write things, but you can surely control the way you react to it.

If you get upset and respond negatively, you will be creating two problems for yourself:

  • A dissatisfied customer
  • Public evidence of your unwillingness to reach out to your customer and settle the case

So take a deep breath and think things through.

2. Get to know the problem at hand

Before you type a response or even do something about it, conduct your own investigation about the things that transpired before and after the purchase. Gather the necessary details (such as the date and time of the purchase, the name, the item, etc.) that you need to study the issue.

The pieces of information you get after studying it should be thorough as these can help you defend your business whenever problems arise.

3. Plan your response before hitting “send”

Think of a logical procedure that you can follow when responding to negative feedback. Your aim in answering such comments is not to argue with those who complained against your products and services but to go beyond the extra mile and exhibit an excellent level of customer service.

Create various responses that are both factual and polite. Compose your thoughts and write them down. Choose your response and imagine how the thread would proceed if you were in the customer’s shoes. In case things don’t work in your favor, plan possible measures ahead. Examine the things that you can implement to appease your customers.

Be sincere in your willingness to help your customers in solving the issue.

4. Apologize with genuineness

Research shows that 87% of Americans believe that good customer service alters purchasing behavior. In times like these, customers do not really pay attention to the technicalities. All that they want to hear is that you empathize with them and that you’re ready to help them out.

Given that a customer’s dissatisfaction wasn’t entirely your fault, saying sorry does not automatically mean that there’s a mistake on your end. Often times, a simple apology is a sign of empathy — that you are truly sorry for their negative experience and that you would do whatever it takes to resolve it.

Doing so would make your customers feel that you truly care for them, that you heard their complaints and that you are there to help them out.

5. Show them that your company holds high standards

After acknowledging the customer’s negative experience, provide reassurance to your future review readers that your business has a good track record in terms of customer service.

You can write things like “We are usually known for our excellent customer service and we regret that we have not met your expectations.”

6. Take the conversation offline

It is very rare for companies to be able to smoothen out a bad experience with just one reply. You wouldn’t want to start an online conflict that’s visible to the public so you might as well take the conversation offline.

Give out your contact information or your representative. Demonstrate sincerity in reaching out to them. Make them feel and understand that you take their concerns seriously.

“Let us know what we can do to help you out. Please call us at ___ and speak to ____, our ___. We’d be glad to discuss the details with you and make things right to give you a better experience here at (your company).”

7. Explain what happened

Don’t just stop on the apologizing portion. It won’t contribute much in resolving the issue that paved the way for your customer to write negative feedback about your company in the first place.

If your business had a mishap, help them understand what went wrong, what contributed to the delay, why the expectations that they had weren’t met, or simply why whatever they were looking for was not provided.

However, if the reason for their dissatisfaction doesn’t have something to do with your brand, write your statements in such a manner that you can clarify to your potential customers that this complaint does not reflect the quality of your products and services.

If they misused your product, give them step-by-step instructions on how to use it.

8. Present a list of solutions

If you spent an hour by saying sorry to them without exactly resolving issues out, then you have not only wasted their time — but yours as well. Reach out to them so you can discuss the problem at hand. Go the extra mile and show them that satisfying customers is on top of your brand’s objectives.

If the problem cannot be solved within a matter of minutes, give your customers a specific and transparent timeline that they can follow for updates and progress.

9. If you cannot solve the problem, offer alternatives

There are cases when negative feedback spring from issues like product defects, delays, and unavailability of products and services.

At times like these, you can provide alternatives such as replacing the product, offering a discount in their next purchase, or in worst-case scenarios, refunding them in full.

Study out the best options you can offer and see to it that it does not jeopardize your brand in any manner. It feels good to please your customers, but these alternative solutions must stay within reasonable bounds. Find the perfect balance.

10. Give them an assurance

Do everything in your power to make sure that the same mistake (if ever there was any) never happens again.

If there was anything you have learned from your customer’s comment which is beneficial to your business, include them in your response. Doing so will allow your angry customers and potential clients to understand that you immediately respond and that you really take their feedback seriously.

Show the public they would not be having the same problem again. Or, if ever they will, you will do your part and take action right away.

11. Thank them for their review

Showing gratitude for a customer’s review — whether it be positive or negative — is always a healthy statement to use to end your response. They dedicated a portion of their time to write feedback about your products and services which is not always an easy thing to do.

Furthermore, negative feedback can give you an idea about the things that you might have overlooked or simply missed.

12. Ask them if they can revise their initial feedback

Now that you have remedied the situation, there is nothing wrong with politely asking your now-pacified customer if he can somehow update his review on your page.

Now that you’re at it, here are some points to remember:

  • Be sure to give out a timely response. A survey indicates that 38% of customers expect businesses to respond and resolve issues within a day, while 30% expect answers within 3 days. To get notifications of reviews about your company, set up review alerts or develop a review response tool so you wouldn’t have to log in and out of different sites manually.
  • Make sure that you have created a solid review response policy and those who are assigned to this department know about it. This tip is very useful if your business operates in various parts of the world. Granting that 97% of people read reviews, it is important for companies to have a set of guidelines on how customer reviews must be dealt with.
  • The shorter the response, the better. Again, situations may differ. However, it may be useful to remember that sometimes, less is more. Bear in mind that your future customers might come across this review and the way you respond truly matters. Do not start an online war with the person who sent your business a negative feedback. Apologize, show that your business holds high standards and then take the conversation offline. Review the steps written above and exhibit a highly-responsive customer service.

Conclusion

Companies do what they can to get rid of negative reviews. But not all of these reviews are bad. In fact, if you think about it, these negative feedback can help your business improve in a lot of ways.

That is why it is vital for you as a business owner to come up with the best game plan in responding to it. These negative reviews, if handled and answered carefully, can build trust and attract or retain customers.

So the next time you come across one, take it as a chance to showcase a level of customer service like no other. Lend a hand, go the extra mile, and make your customers happy.

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