Getting a bad online review for your small business can be frustrating and, in some cases, feel like the end of the world. You work hard to create happy customers and then someone leaves a bad comment. There is a six-step approach every small business owner should take when it comes to reading and reacting to bad online reviews.
A bad online review of your business is just that; a review of your business. It is not a personal attack on you or your family. When you see a bad online review, your best course of action is to take a deep breath and walk away. Let the comment sit overnight and then go at it again with a clearer head and a more rational mindset.
There are services available online that will write bad reviews about any business as long as the service gets paid. Before you launch into any type of response to a bad review, you should do your research and find out if it is a legitimate review or not. If the platform hosting the review is known for posting fake customer opinions, then contact the site and ask for proof that the review is genuine. In most cases, the site will simply take the review down. But if you prove the review is real, then you need to move quickly onto the next step.
Good business owners use negative reviews as ways to find and resolve issues within their business. If you look at the context of the review and realize that the reviewer is right, then you can post a response thanking them for their comment and letting them know that the problem will be resolved. If the complaint seems to be nonsensical, then you can respond by asking the one who complained to contact you in a private conversation and provide more details.
No matter how you are handling a bad online review, you do not want to allow the situation to get out of hand in a manner that the public can see. Your initial acknowledgment and your promise to solve the problem are posted publicly to show that you are working on the issue. But then you should ask the customer to contact you in a private conversation. If they persist on posting private information on the public conversation, then ask again for them to contact you privately. If they refuse to contact you privately, then you should stop responding.
Whether you are right or wrong in this discussion, you should always offer a sincere apology. This means that you do not offer a template apology that does not apply to this particular situation because insincerity will not only anger the customer, but it could draw more angry people into the conversation. You should write a quick and personal apology that indicates acceptance of the customer's inconvenience and a willingness to solve the problem.
If you are getting a lot of bad online reviews about the same subject, then you have a pattern that has to be addressed. Your company can learn a lot about creating happy customers by paying attention to online reviews and watching for trends.
Online reviews can help boost your business, even if those reviews are bad. As long as you address bad online reviews properly, your company should be able to solve problems and create satisfied customers with the sincere manner in which you handle each situation.