Let’s face it: Nobody likes to see their business get negative reviews. It can feel humiliating and affect your bottom line at the end of the day.
Just one upset customer can scare away hundreds of potential new clients. The more upset someone is, the more likely they are to voice their negative reviews about your business. Almost everyone does it. In fact, 95% of people polled said they’ve shared stories about bad customer service experiences, either online or in real life.
If you’re running a service business, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll have to deal with negative reviews. When it happens, it’s important to know that there’s a right way and a wrong way to handle it. We’ve put together this guide to help show you the right way.
Don’t Ignore Bad Reviews
Everyone makes mistakes. If a customer left a negative review of your personal performance, don’t hide it out of shame or feel embarrassed. Maybe you were having an off day and didn’t realize how that was affecting you in the workplace. Don’t sweat it, but do learn from it. Feedback is always something you should use for improvement, not as an insult or reason to give up.
If it was an employee’s performance, don’t lash out at them. Talk to them, find out what happened, and figure out a way to learn from the experience.They’re likely already aware of their wrongdoing. Making them uncomfortable isn’t going to improve their performance.
Do Share the Review with Your Team
Transparency is crucial. If you can’t talk about a problem, you can’t solve it. Talk to your team about how you got that negative review if you want to avoid getting the next one.
However you choose to address your team, whether it’s via email or an in-person team meeting, be sure to make it a constructive discussion. Talk about what went wrong during that appointment and how it should’ve been handled instead.
Don’t Take It Personally
No one likes being criticized. But keep in mind: This is not a personal attack on your character. Most customers who leave negative online reviews just want to prevent other people from the same treatment.
Eighty-eight percent of Americans who admit to having left negative reviews before claim they did so to warn others about their experience. So it’s not about you. But it is about the service you provide to your customers and how you can improve it.
Do Take the Review Seriously
Take some time to look into why exactly they were disappointed or dissatisfied. Consider some ways you can prevent their negative experience from happening to someone else. Sometimes this can be a quick fix.. But other times it might require more thorough restructuring of your policies and business.
Don’t Get Defensive
Even if you disagree with the bad review of your business, you should control yourself and respond respectfully. Don’t debate the validity of their statements, argue with the reviewer, or respond in an aggressive or combative way. Arguing with a dissatisfied client online makes their original complaint seem more valid, and worse, it makes you look like the bad guy.
Making an emotionally reactive move will end up costing you more business in the long run. So, take a breather, and write your reply when your temper’s cooled down.
Do Respond Promptly—and Calmly
Regardless of whether or not the complaint was fair, you absolutely need to respond promptly to negative reviews. Always acknowledge their frustration, and thank them for their feedback. If an apology is appropriate, you must apologize, and apologize sincerely.
That said, you don’t have to take responsibility if you’re truly not at fault. If a client shows up an hour late for an appointment and complains you couldn’t fit them in, you don’t need to admit wrongdoing. But you do need to say you understand that it was frustrating for them, and that you’re sorry they had a negative experience.
Contact the reviewer directly to prevent a back-and-forth exchange on the review site. 33% of negative reviews actually turn into positive reviews after receiving a response from the business. If you want to turn a negative reviews into a positive experience, show that you take their experience seriously.
Don’t Assume All Reviews Are Fake
Again, keep in mind that the vast majority of negative reviews aren’t given out of spite. This was someone who has already given you business, not some troll arguing with you on Twitter. Don’t assume they’re lying to you or that it’s a competitor looking to cause your downfall. Most likely, they’re a really customer with a legitimate gripe they have a right to express.
Don’t fight for the review to be removed unless there’s truly a reason it warrants being removed (such as threatening or hateful language.) It may feel satisfying to vent your anger by contacting the site administrator to argue over the accuracy of their comments, but fighting against real reviews won’t help you at all.
Do Report Fake Reviews
Thankfully, this will never be an issue on Booksy, where only verified reviews are accepted. Only customers we’ve confirmed as real clients and who have completed an appointment with you are allowed to leave a review of your business. On other review sites, however, you should absolutely report any review you honestly believe to be a fake review by a spam account or competitor.
Don’t Let a Negative Review Be Your Last Review
Getting a bad review on occasion is inevitable, but, you don’t want to draw attention to it by letting it remain the first-seen review for too long. That said, don’t post reviews of your own business or tell your employees to do so either. It looks shady (because it is), and everyone reading it can tell what you’re doing. So don’t do it.
Do Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews
The best way to combat negative reviews are to get more positive reviews. The more reviews you get after the negative one, the lower down on the page it appears, and the less likely it is to be seen. The best way to get more positive reviews it to earn them. Deliver an experience that’s worth promoting and ask your best customers to review you. People enjoy supporting a business they love more than they enjoy taking someone down a peg. Give your customers a million reasons to love you and you’ll prevent bad reviews before they ever happen.
Protect Your Reputation
Simply by doing this, not that, you can recover from negative reviews and focus on getting the good reviews your business deserves.