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Responding to Negative Reviews

It’s going to happen. There are individuals who truly believe that the internet is the appropriate place for them to vent their personal grievances against a business owner or their employee(s). Thankfully, most review sites have some policy guidelines that give business owners recourse to have these reviews removed, but if a review – regardless of whether it was true or valid – doesn’t necessarily violate the policies of the site on which it was posted, a response may be required. Here are some guidelines to help small business owners respond to negative reviews.

Don’t – If the review is truly a “rant” when people read it they will likely determine on their own that this is not necessarily a person from whom they can get an accurate assessment of the quality of products and services they can expect from your business. If the review is emotional, extremely long, and full of misspelled words and grammatical errors, it is probably best to let be its own best testimonial. Some people make it clear from their own words that they are unreasonable and/or not believable.

Keep It Professional – Do NOT make personal statements or offer any criticism about the client / customer who left the review. A great advantage to getting a negative review is that it can be an opportunity to showcase your customer relation skills, and demonstrate that you are committed to client satisfaction. State that plainly and clearly, and you will be likely be admired by potential customers regardless of the legitimacy of the review.

Offer A Solution – If the review is actually legitimate, it’s likely that it can be easily resolved. Offer a coupon, free shipping, free appetizer, a face-to-face meeting with the person, whatever is appropriate for the type of products and services you offer. The outcome may not necessarily be that you win that customer back, but it may demonstrate to potential customers that you are a business owner who cares about the opinion of your clients.

Don’t Explain Yourself – Don’t re-hash conversations you may have had with this person to resolve the issue. The chances of winning them over after you have tried to come to an agreement face-to-face or by phone or email are very slim, so don’t bother publishing your efforts on social media. Explaining your “side” will likely make potential customers feel as if you are not someone who listens and rather that you are someone who needs to have the last word. Don’t bother.

Apologize – If the review is legitimate, if you have truly tried to resolve the issue with this person, if you offered some type of recompense, it’s ok to just agree to disagree and let them express that they had a bad experience. This is so very, very rare. Most people are reasonable, and truly want resolution and peace, but there will be times when it’s just impossible. It’s ok to just offer a public apology and wish that person all the best.

By taking the high road, bad reviews can actually be an opportunity to show potential customers that you truly care, and that you are professional, educated, and willing to admit wrongs and try to make things right. It is a chance to be the bigger person and bring a little peace to your small corner of the world.

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