It finally happened. You got a negative Google review. What can you do about it?
As strange as it may sound, a negative review can actually be a good thing for your business.
Think about it this way: do you trust a product or company if all their reviews are 5 stars? Perfect online reviews are a red flag for most of us and we often start wondering how many of those glowing reviews are fake.
Whether a negative review turns into a positive impression of your business depends on your response.
A well-written, genuine response to a bad review could be used as a way for your company to show that you care. It humanizes you and makes your business relatable.
You not only have a chance to improve your reputation with the customer who posted a negative review, but you can also win over future potential customers or clients when they come across your sympathetic response.
But First…Don’t Ignore It!
Ignoring a bad Google review won’t make it go away. The longer a negative review exists without you responding, the higher the chance is that it will chase away a potential customer.
However, don’t engage the reviewer while you’re feeling angry or hurt over the negative review. The last thing you want to do is escalate the situation and look like you’re picking fights with your customers.
Once a bad review has been brought to your attention, take the following actions:
Step away from your keyboard for at least 15 minutes. Everyone can benefit from a “cooling off” period.
Once you’re calm and ready to view the negative review objectively, do some research:
When did this customer interact with your business?
Who was the employee who came into contact with them?
Does their complaint accurately reflect an area where your company can improve?
If you’ve determined that this review is really from a dissatisfied customer (if it isn’t, we’ll tell you how to handle fake reviews later in this blog post!), it’s time to write your response.
4 Steps To Handle A Negative Google Review
1. Personalize Your Response
Don’t address the person who left the review as “customer” or “client”. It sounds generic and unfeeling. Most of the time you can see the first name of the reviewer right there in their Google review, so use their first name.
2. Say Thank You
I know, it can grate on you to thank someone for a negative review, but it can go a long way toward making the reviewer see your company in a more positive light.
A few ways you can say thank you:
“Thank you for bringing this to our attention…”
“Thank you for letting us know about this…”
“Thank you for sharing an honest review of your experience with us…”
3. Apologize and Provide a Solution
Often, what a customer experiences when they deal with your company may not be your fault. However, the average person doesn’t want to trust a business they feel is too proud or ignorant to own up to their mistakes.
How to say you’re sorry (even when it’s not your fault)
“I’m sorry you feel that…”
“I’m sorry you experienced this at (insert your company name here)”
“I’m sorry you weren’t satisfied with…”
After apologizing, make sure you offer a solution. Whether it’s an explanation of a miscommunication that occurred or an offer to provide a replacement product, give the reviewer a proposed solution they can choose to accept.
Depending on the measures taken to address the issue the reviewer has mentioned, you can also share what your business is doing to make sure a similar negative situation doesn’t happen again.
4. Offer to Address the Problem Offline
After you’ve thanked the reviewer, apologized, and offered a solution, the best way to wrap up your review is to once again remind the reviewer that you’re a human being. Offer to discuss the issue further offline to reach a satisfactory resolution.
You can use a statement like, “Please contact me personally via email or phone if you’d like to discuss this issue in more detail.” Just be sure to also include your name (at least your first name and last initial), title, and contact information.
Remember, the goals of responding to a negative review are to:
Make sure your reviewer feels heard
Show the public that your company cares about the feedback your customers provide
Help solve a problem a customer had while interacting with your business
The #1 Mistake to Avoid
You should never ask a customer to remove their review. Online review sites like Google and Yelp are public forums, which means sometimes your business will receive less than stellar reviews.
Asking a customer to remove a review is rarely taken well by the reviewer and can lead to more negative reviews.
Remember, a negative Google review isn’t a reason to bang your head against the wall. Just make sure you respond quickly, professionally, and continue to ask your satisfied customers to leave you positive reviews.
The more positive reviews you receive, the less noticeable any negative reviews will be!
Em Rohrer earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and English at Grace College in 2005. As a published author and content marketing specialist, she worked in non-profit and corporate business environments before bringing her 15+ years of digital marketing expertise to 1Eighty Digital.