How to Handle Negative Feedback: A Practical Guide
Where there is light, there is shadow too. This describes online reviews in a nutshell. When it comes to reputation management, it is essential to react to negative reviews.
You probably struggle to respond to negative feedback because you don’t know how to react, what the appropriate language is, or what happens if you disagree with the reviewer. However, responding can not only save your reputation. When handled right, negative customer experiences can even have a positive effect on your business.
Serious Reasons to Care About Negative Reviews
Your customers are more likely to leave a review if they had a poor experience than if they had a positive one. Let’s face it, negative reviews are inevitable.
Such reviews can impact the traffic you get from Google, because star ratings are used in its search results. Google gets this information from online reviews on its own platform — Google My Business — as well as from
If you have a poor rating, or if you don’t have any ratings, you can be sure that other websites will appear in the search results. Your listings won’t stand out, and Google users might not click through to your website. Every time it happens, it costs you money, because your customers will choose a competitor who does have (good) star ratings.
This lack of
However, negative reviews are necessary. Our experience in Trustami is that many online shops ask especially for showing 99.97% instead of 100%. If the score is not perfect, that is better for the shop’s authenticity. The
Summing it up:
- Negative reviews are inevitable, so you should have a strategy for them.
- A solid star rating makes you more visible in search results.
- A perfect 100% score is worse than a more authentic 99% score.
How to Track Negative Reviews
When your business grows, the number of ratings normally grows with it. Successful
You get two opportunities to read your negative reviews and respond to them.
The first one is to manually track the platforms. When you don’t have many customers reviewing you, that might be manageable. Here’s how to do it:
- Check major review websites every day.
- Set up Google Alerts for your company name as a keyword.
- Regularly search your brand name on social media. Follow your branded hashtag on Instagram, if you have one.
- Browse YouTube, as there might be video reviews of your products.
The drawback of this method is that reviews are not necessarily in the Google index, so you can spend a lot of time searching and still miss something.
When you gain more customers, the number of ratings you get increases, as well as the number of platforms where they appear. The professional way to manage reviews then is to get a service to do it for you. You can do it for free with Trustami if you want. Trustami can send you an automatic review alert on a daily basis if you get a negative rating somewhere.
How to Make Negative Reviews Work for You
Here we’ll give you a
1. Decide whether it’s a fair one
If you see a malicious message and feel the review is unfair, don’t give up right away. You can try to get the review removed. Address the platform but be ready to have good reasons for the removal request. Some reasons may be inappropriate language, wrong review target, or an unverified transaction.
2. Respond to the reviewer directly
Your goal is to get the reviewer to change the comment or at least to protect yourself from future bad ratings.
A perfect reply to a negative review clearly shows that you:
- Acknowledge the issue and apologize.
- Help the customer with their issues.
- Are authentic and personal.
- Tactfully promote a positive image of your business.
- Learn from it and promise to prevent future issues.
Sometimes a negative review can be very aggressive, or completely unfair, but it still doesn’t violate any terms of the review website. In such a
- Don’t ignore a bad comment. It can be tempting to put it on the back burner, but you shouldn’t leave the website until you resolve the issue.
- Don’t take it personally. Focus on helping your customer.
- Don’t react right away. Haste often results in an emotional or unprepared response. Before answering, take a second to think about it and, if necessary, consult your staff. You should obtain as many details as possible regarding the issue.
- Don’t start a long discussion publicly. Your message on the
public-facingplatform should contain facts, an explanation, and an offer to discuss this issue with the customer in more detail through direct messaging. However, try to say a little bit more than I am sorry, give me a call and we can resolve the situation, but also reply to every statement about the circumstances.
- Don’t be defensive or too apologetic. Try not to blame someone or to repeat how sorry you are, but figure out a way to prevent this from happening again.
Below are two
Case 1: Network issues
Disturbed data connections and call cancellations are not uncommon in metropolitan areas. If problems arise, it is up to mobile operators to appease angry customers and fix the cause of the problem as quickly as possible.
The trigger was a blog post by IT developer Matthias Bauer, who complained about network issues and got this answer:
With the heading We are an isolated case, O2 customer Bauer published an angry blog post. He addressed the recurring provider response that the connection problems are only individual cases. The blogger then invited everyone with the same problem to enroll in his blog. After a short time, over 6,000 people enrolled and the topic went viral.
In the end, O2 said sorry and promised to expand their infrastructure. But that happened after the shitstorm was already there, and the reputation took a large blow.
What do you think would be the best way to prevent it? Leave a comment below.
Case 2: A caterpillar in the salad
A visitor to the franchise Vapiano found a caterpillar in their salad and posted a video on Facebook. Of course, some visitors did not find it that funny. Many users also sympathized with the caterpillar and interpreted it as an indication of fresh food.
Within 24 hours, the user’s public status had reached more than 40,000 hits and had been shared more than 14,000 times.
The PR agency that supervised Vapiano responded to this situation in order to slightly reduce the negative impact of the posting: You could see this as proof of the freshness of our salads. Their message also said: On the contrary, we take this very, very seriously, such a thing must not happen to us!, followed by an apology.
The result: an impending shitstorm is now developing into a
Some comments were:
it’s just a caterpillar!
You A …. I would rather have saved the animal instead of leaving it in the vinegar bath!
Nobody dies of it. Everyone survived in the jungle camp.
At the end, this event could have been a huge reputation setback, but due to the clever reaction, it turned out as positive publicity.
Negative reviews are not as bad as you think. You can even transfer them to enhance your business and gain your customers’ trust. It is normal that nothing is perfect and mistakes, as well as problems, happen in every business.
This is what you’ve learned in this post:
- Watch your review channels regularly.
- Don’t panic if a customer writes a negative review.
- Get directly in touch with the writer.
- Respond to a bad comment publicly.
- Learn from negative customer feedback.
You should try to set up a regular stream of positive reviews about your business as a part of your reputation management. If you do this on the main review websites, the negative reviews will not be as significant. If you have between 10 and 100 positive reviews per one negative rating, the potentially harmful impact of this negative review will be mitigated.
Learn how to get more reviews in our previous post.
Do you already have reviews, likes, or followers on several platforms like Yelp, Facebook, Amazon, eBay, Trustpilot, Etsy, and many more?
Register your Trustami Account for free and pool all trust signals with just a few clicks in less than five minutes. This is the easiest way to keep track of all your review channels and manage your reputation in an efficient way.