Negative reviews are part and parcel of doing business both online and offline. After all, we're all different and even the world's best run businesses can't please everyone. Before you hit that abandon ship button, remember that a negative review is not the end of the world. In fact, there are a surprising amount of benefits of negative reviews, especially when you know how best to respond to them.
Should You respond to negative reviews?
Is it really that important to respond to negative reviews? Yes, in fact it's very important indeed - 61% of people say that just getting a response to their complaint is reward enough. After all, customer's like to know they're valued and one way of reassuring them is to make every one of their problems, your problem.
That being said, there is a sweet spot - revenue may decrease if a business starts responding to more than 40% of its reviews so it's important to be selective when replying to reviews. Don't entertain the fakes or respond for responding's sake. It's the negative ones you want to concentrate on.
When it does come to responding to negative feedback, it's imperative to get it right. A huge 69% of customers who get an inadequate response to their review say they won’t shop at the retailer anymore, so its definitely worth learning how to get those replies spot-on.
How To Reply To Negative Reviews: 5 Reliable Rules To Live By
Replying right is essential, but that's not to say it has to be complicated. Follow our 5 reliable rules and you'll win the hearts of your dissatisfied customers, every time.
Rule #1: Say thank you
If they didn't tell you, how would you know? Starting with a simple "Thank you for your review" acknowledges that you appreciate constructive feedback and also demonstrates you're prepared to admit to your mistakes - you don't take the high road.
Rule #2: Apologise
Sorry can go a long way. However blunt or angry negative reviews may seem, it's important to remember that your customers are not the enemy and are unlikely to have left you a negative review for no reason at all.
Whatever their feedback and whether you agree with it or not, you should apologise for the upset caused. Do this sincerely and understandingly as a way of winning your disgruntled customer over before you take any steps towards tackling the issue at hand.
Rule #3: Personalise your review responses
This is the rule that is most frequently broken. Nothing frustrates a customer or potential customer more than reading a canned, irrelevant response.
Instead of getting a response out as quickly as possible, take some time to fully understand the customer's issue. This may involve speaking to team members in other departments and even test-running the issue yourself to find the bumps in the road. In your response, reply back to the specifics in the initial review and, using your findings, try to explain the reason for the issue. All of this will help to calm a frustrated reviewer.
Rule #4: Offer a solution
In an ideal world, you'd provide every negative reviewer with a solution to there problem. Whilst not always possible, it should be a rule you try to stick to.
A solution can be in the form of a refund or return or perhaps just some advice about the product/service that's caused the problem.
By providing a solution, you are literally, turning the positive into a negative which will save relationships and showcase great customer service too.
Rule #5: Reiterate your goal
Once you've thanked, apologised and done your best to solve the problem at the heart of the negative review, it's a good idea to reiterate your business' vision to show the customer the mishap wasn't up to your usual standards.
If you are a fashion e-commerce retailer, your goal might be to provide the highest quality products at the lowest price all while having efficient delivery. In this case, you might respond to a complaint about delivery like the example below:
"Dear Mr Taylor, I was disappointed to hear that you had not received your parcel on the delivery day given when you placed your order. I have followed up with our courier company and they have confirmed that the delivery did not take place due to an unforeseen driver problem. When we started "A Fashion Website" our goal was always to offer exceptional delivery and price. Unfortunately, in this instance, we have failed to meet our high standards. We will be having further discussions with our courier partner on how we can make sure this type of problem does not happen in the future."
Rule #6: Offer a follow-up
Before you sign off, reiterate the importance of customer satisfaction to your business by offering to discuss the matter further. Something along the lines of "I have emailed you my contact details if you would like to discuss this matter further." This shows your door is always open and that when customers choose to shop with you, no problem goes unresolved.
Rule #7: Avoid the 'C' word
The final rule on our list is more of a don't than a do. In general, compensation shouldn't be mentioned in any review response. Mentioning the word compensation usually opens the floodgates around trust and bribery. It could also set this as a standard procedure for your company, which is not what you want.
If you feel compelled to offer compensation, make sure you do this via a private email or call.
Private or public?
Now you've learnt how to reply to negative reviews in the best way possible, there's another question to answer: should you go private, or publicise your responses? In most cases, we'd advise replying publicly to negative reviews. Providing you handle the review correctly and respond following the rules above, it will only do good for your online reputation. In more complicated cases, it may be better to reply privately first. This facilitates more in-depth communication and also allows any anger from the customer to be vented 'behind closed doors'. Once you're happy with the resolution privately, you can go ahead and publicise a more condensed response following the rules above.
Review response template for negative reviews
Whilst we don't advocate using exact copied templates for review responses, to get started, they can be useful. Feel free to use the review response template above as a guide to help you ace all those replies! Be sure to customise it as much as you can to make it personal and maximise its effectiveness. It's always a good idea to check out some review response examples too before you start writing any of your own.
When it comes to negative reviews, it's not the review that counts, it's your response that does. Be personable, be human and follow our reliable rules and you're unlikely to go too far wrong.