Responding to negative (and positive) reviews online is crucial to making your business work.
Getting a bad review online isn’t necessarily the end of the world. In fact, just like everything else, it can give you an opportunity not just to learn from your experience but to show your existing (and potential) customers that in the unlikely even they’re not satisfied with your product or service, your company has their back.
Take the bull by the horns. Burying your head in the sand is not a strategy and can cause so much more harm than answering, even if you’re worried that your answer is not ideal. People want to know that there are humans behind a company, humans who care.
Here is a simple guideline to help you on your path to excellent customer service and review responses:
1- Be as prompt as possible. Follow JetBlue’s fantastic response time:
If someone is so unsatisfied with your product / service that they went out of their way to draft and post a review, that means they have given this a lot of thought. The more time you allow to go by, the more this customer will grow to think that your company doesn’t care. By responding swiftly, they at least understand that your company is listening and cares
2- Offer a way to rectify the problem.
Saying sorry is a great first step but making it better is what you should be doing. It may seem like a hassle to send a new product over or even reimburse a sale. In fact, you may not agree with the customer that they’re right. But none of this should matter as much as how you’re perceived, not just by the complaining customer, but by anyone who may be listening in on the conversation.
The customer may not take you up on your offer, but you’re making it clear that your intentions are to make the customer happy. It is highly likely that rectifying the complaint will be worth your while in the long run, and your eyes should always be on the endgame.
3- Let your voice shine through.
If you haven’t already done so, this is a wonderful opportunity to establish your brand tone of voice with your team. Sounding like a normal human and not like a salesperson, making an innocent joke here and there, is a great way to soften the conversation and easy any tensions that may have arisen. Matching their tone is also a great way to bond with your reviewers.
4- On that note, don’t forget that this isn’t your buddy.
Always remember to show respect! While your tone can (and should) be friendly, don’t forget to be as polite as possible. If in doubt, err towards politeness than familiarity.
5- Demonstrate empathy.
Kind words of sympathy to the situation place you and your dissatisfied customer on the same side of the court. You’re no longer “the company that sold them a bad product” but someone with a name who cares. This makes an astronomical difference.
6- Before you hit “send” review your response
Put yourself not just in the shoes of this dissatisfied customer but any other ones who may be reading your answer. How do your words make your company look? Might they be worrying that if they place an order it will arrive too late or that the quality may not be great? Make sure to address any concerns you think your audience may have but hasn’t yet voiced.
7- Follow up offline.
This is a great opportunity to be even more candid. If you have the customer on the phone you can get a better feel of their disappointment and of what kind of solution they’d prefer. This is also a great way of letting them know that you’re not just answering to make yourself look good online, but that you genuinely care.
*Bonus Tip: Don’t be afraid to get super personal with a video response!*
If you feel comfortable, there is no better way to create a bond with you reviewers than by using video. See how Chef John Howie of Seastar Seafood Restaurant and Raw Bar answers two user reviews - both good and bad - on Yelp.
We have seen so many situations where a negative review was answered so swiftly and with attention and care that the dissatisfied customer turned into a company’s brand ambassador.