Reviews are an essential part of building your reputation. Every business should start managing them at some point, and the larger you get, the more likely you are to have the occasional unhappy customer or internet troll bringing your rating down on Google.

That negative review might not be as bad as it seems. Sure, it can be stressful imagining potential customers seeing negative comments when they look you up, but it’s not likely to lose you much business in the long run. 

Now the question is, how to respond to bad reviews? Below are 5 tips for responding to negative reviews and reducing the impact they have on your business.

Plan ahead

There is always the potential for an unhappy customer and you must always be prepared. 

Have a process prepared that outlines ways to respond to and document negative reviews, and make sure anyone responding is trained in carrying out the plan. Use consistent, empathetic messaging that doesn’t invalidate the customer’s feelings. 

Creating a battle plan ahead of time will make it so much easier to manage any negative reviews that show up.

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Respond professionally

Your first impulse might be to argue with the customer the moment you get a bad review from them, but you have to keep in mind the potential customers that will read your response later. Most people reading poor reviews want to see how a business responds to criticism, and if the business is too defensive, potential customers may think twice about working with them.  

Here are a handful of good tips for professional responses to negative reviews:

  • Address the reviewer by name and thank them 
  • Apologize for the issue and sympathize with their experience
  • Take responsibility for making things right (or explain how you made things right)
  • Try to take the issue offline
  • Ask for a second chance

Remember, always try to appear calm and collected when you communicate with a customer publicly. 

Taking responsibility and moving the conversation offline can help you turn a negative situation into a positive one by removing the anonymity of the internet. A customer then gets to deal with a real person and you can solve the problem faster.

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Reach out personally

Reaching out personally is one of the most effective ways to take the conversation offline. 

Dennis Steele, co-founder of Podium, suggests the following when handling negative reviews: “Respond and reach out immediately. We suggest using a text. It’s an easy and unobtrusive way to engage, and you probably have their contact information in your system. Say ‘Hey, this is the owner, let’s resolve this miscommunication.’” 

Talking to the customer personally can help you understand what the miscommunication might have been, take that feedback to your team for a resolution, and you might even win over the customer.

Look at it as an opportunity

Believe it or not, bad reviews can actually do some good for your business. 

Customers who see your business online are looking for a trustworthy business. They read reviews to know how you have treated other customers. 

Having only perfect ratings can seem too good to be true, and might actually make your business seem less trustworthy.

When a customer sees that your total rating is 4.7 or 4.8, that’s a sign that your business is run by humans and it’s being rated by humans. 

Bad reviews are also an opportunity to turn a critic into an advocate. Disgruntled customers who are effectively helped can become your biggest champions and lead to more business in the future. A one-star review can always be changed to a five-star rating.

Ask for more reviews

Most people don’t remember to leave a review unless they are unhappy, so remind your satisfied customers to review you, too. You may never get a negative review changed or removed, but you can drown it in a sea of positive reviews. 

When a potential customer sees only a few bad ones among dozens of positive ones, they will be more likely to assume that the bad reviews are exceptions to the great service you usually provide. 

Utilize tools like JobNimbus that can facilitate asking for reviews from satisfied customers and set reminders to respond to each review. Take advantage of these tools to make the positive reviews stand out, and remind people how great your business is!

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Taking the time to make a plan, respond professionally, reach out personally, see reviews as an opportunity, and ask for honest reviews will help your reputation grow and even win you more business! 

JobNimbus recently spoke with Dennis Steele of Podium about his advice for dealing with negative reviews online. Watch his episode of Building Business with Ben Hodson here, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more business tips from JobNimbus top roofing software!

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