Sometimes things don’t go as planned and you wind up with a bad review on Google, Facebook, Yelp, or Trip Advisor. Whether it’s your fault or theirs, there are certain Do’s and Don’ts that you should consider before hitting that reply button. Remember, your response to a bad review will not only be seen by the person you are replying to, but also by the countless people who will visit the site in the future. Not only is this your chance to make things right with the person who feels wronged, but also to show the world that you really do care about your customers.
Here are a few steps that we always suggest to clients:
Step 1: Apologize and Sympathize
Acknowledge the customer’s concerns. You don’t have to admit that you were wrong, but at least acknowledge that they are upset. Even if they are unfounded, show sympathy that they had a bad experience. “I’m terribly sorry to hear about your bad experience.”
Step 2: Insert a Little Marketing, But Not Too Much
Explain what your customers usually experience. “We’re normally known for our exceptional attention to detail and our big selection of outstanding products, and we regret that you feel that we missed the mark.” However, DO NOT include your business name or any relevant keywords — you don’t want to help this review‘s SEO. After all, the last thing you want is a bad review popping up when someone Google’s your business name.
Step 3: Move the Conversation Offline As Quickly As Possible
Provide contact info with someone at the business so they can discuss the problem in person. “My name is [name] and I am the [owner/manager]. If you’d like to discuss this further, please contact me directly at [phone number/email].”
Step 4: Keep It Simple, Short, and Sweet
Don’t go into too much detail or ask any questions. This will help you avoid saying something that might cause the upset customer to add even more negative feedback by replying to the review. Three sentences for your whole reply is a good rule of thumb.
Step 5: Never Make It Personal
Definitely don’t take an argumentative stance. Keep in mind that this review will be seen by others — your response should be written with those people in mind more than anything else. Even if you are mad as hell about a shitty bogus review, you have to swallow your pride and make the appearance of bending over backwards to help the person. It sucks, but it is what it is.
Check out what this Honda dealership does:
Step 6: Get The Review Updated
There is always the chance that a customer is just going to be pissed off forever. Some people you just can’t win over. C’est la vie. However, remember that there is always the chance that you are able to make a customer happy again so it’s always worth putting forth the effort to smooth things over and then politely asking them to update their review if they seem happy.
And remember, negative reviews don’t generally go away, so if you’ve been able to remedy the situation, you can politely ask the customer to update their negative review:
We recently instructed a client to write this:
“Hi [name]! We are terribly sorry to hear that you had as less than satisfactory experience. We’re known for our knowledgeable staff and selection of quality products that come direct from the manufacturers, so we regret you feel that we missed the mark. My name is [name] and I am one of the owners. If you’d like to discuss this further in person, I’d love for you to call me directly at (239) 123-1234 when it is most convenient for you so we can rectify this for you as quickly as possible.”
Step 7: What To Do If You Still Can’t Win
Realistically, some customers won’t be consoled. And even after solving an issue, a customer may not ever update their bad review, so you’re stuck with it. And since most review sites don’t let businesses delete bad reviews, your next step is to drown it in a sea of great four- or five-star reviews.
We highly recommend implementing some kind of system that continually reminds happy customers to leave a good review. Typically this can be achieved by adding a single step somewhere at the end of your sales cycle, be it a card handed out at the time of service or a packing slip enclosed with a shipped product.
DRKMTTR offers a printable PDF that we have put together for clients to help. It is a very easy to use flow chart that guides customers through a few simple steps to leave a review. Our clients print them out and attach them to their invoices or package them with other promo stuff in shipment boxes. It works great! We customize them with our client’s branding and make them look super nice. If you want us to put together one for you, let us know.
Remember, if you truly have a great product or service, the positive reviews will drown out the negative ones, and anyone reading reviews will see the bad reviews as more of an outlier and not the norm for your business.