No business can please every customer every time. Some people have impossible standards and will find something to complain about in even the most benign situations, and sometimes, your business practices will legitimately fail to meet a customer’s needs. As such, negative reviews will likely be a reality for your business, whether now or in the future.
While there’s no obligation for businesses to respond to reviews, doing so can establish credibility and accountability, particularly when customers have valid complaints. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to approach responses. This is how to respond to negative Google reviews.
Do Acknowledge the Situation
If you made a mistake, the best thing you can do is acknowledge this and apologize as necessary. Let the customer know that yes, you hear his complaints, and that you are sorry he had a negative experience. If there’s any way to make things right, like offering a discount code or replacing a defective product, do your best to make this happen. Provide a contact number or email address that a reviewer can use to follow up with you personally if you plan to attempt to make amends.
If a customer truly doesn’t have a good case — for example, perhaps a potential customer stopped by your shop on Sunday, only to find your store closed despite posted hours of operation in your storefront and online stating clearly that you are not open that day — you don’t have to apologize, but following up can still be a good idea. A simple response that states that you are aware of the review and emphasizes where customers can find information like your hours of operation to ensure the problem doesn’t happen again is always better than staying silent.
Do Keep It Short
Responses are best when they are short and sweet. It may seem tempting to justify your actions, explain your rationale, defend yourself, or accuse the reviewer of being wrong, but try to refrain. Instead, keep your message brief and to the point. Say what you need to say and move on to the next review. Getting too wordy can make your response seem disingenuous.
Do Be Polite
Even when responding to an irrational and unnecessarily angry review, always be polite. Never insult customers, call them names, belittle them, or otherwise dismiss the content of a review. If you do make the choice to correct or clarify information conveyed in a review, do so in a polite and respectful manner.
Do Take Criticism to Heart
Reading anything bad about your business can be angering, particularly when you feel criticism was unwarranted. However, before taking to the keyboard, stop and process the words in front of you. Do you remember the customer interaction? Does the customer’s side of the story paint an accurate picture of the interaction? Can you see how whatever transpired could affect a customer’s perception of your business?
Regardless of how you feel about the words a customer left, it’s important to remember that there are two sides to every story and that there may be at least a little truth in what you are reading. While your knee-jerk reaction may be to be angry, take the criticism to heart. As a business owner, it’s important to please your customers, and that can mean changing your practices as needed if something you’re doing isn’t resulting in a great response. One idle complaint may not be adequate to make major business decisions, but if your reviews start to sound like broken records, it may be time to make some updates.
Don’t Immediately Lash Out
When you read a negative review, it’s tempting to last out and let your anger get the best of you. While it’s okay to have these feelings — particularly if a customer is griping about something minor or is blatantly incorrect — it’s not okay to act on them.
When you get defensive or angry in response to a review, you risk hurting your reputation by painting you as an aggressive brand that doesn’t take customer complaints seriously. Take some time to stew if necessary and wait until the fog clears to respond. It may feel good in the moment to give a customer a piece of your mind, but doing so will not benefit you in the long run.
Don’t Shift Blame
Some customers legitimately had a bad experience due to their own actions, like visiting outside of your clearly posted hours of operation, expecting to find a product you do not sell, or misinterpreting your sales or specials. However, as a business owner, it’s not your place to point fingers. Doing so makes you look petty, even if your stance is ostensibly correct.
It’s okay to provide additional information, like explaining where to find your store hours or telling customers that they are welcome to call prior to visiting your storefront to learn more about products in stock, but do so politely instead of blatantly blaming customers for their own actions. These people may not choose to shop with you again as a result of their original experience, but the last thing you want to do is turn away people willing to give you a second chance by acting improperly.
Responding to Google Reviews
Replying to customer reviews is equal parts a science and an art. Knowing what to say and how to say it — as well as knowing what not to say — can have a big influence on your reputation in your industry as well as your reputation among your customers. A kind and considerate response can go a long way to calm an angry customer, and an angry or judgmental response can do the opposite. By following these tips, you can be sure you’re doing what’s right for you and your business.
Things like responding to reviews can be a challenge, particularly when you’re eager to get your business off the ground and every bad review seems like a slap in the face. Knowing how to respond to negative Google reviews can help you improve the ways in which you do business. With help from RivalMind, you can get it right every time. Contact us today to learn more!