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How To Respond To Negative Reviews Online

By Marc Reifenrath on December 5, 2011 in Digital Marketing

As phonebooks inevitably become obsolete, consumers lean on search engines local listings to find local business information like phone numbers and addresses. Beyond that, consumers use the reviews and ratings on these local listings to make informed decisions. It's important for local business' to not only claim these listings, but to control and monitor the content...especially the reviews.

So you've got a negative what?

Create a Plan

Creating a plan to respond to reviews is often forgotten about until it's too late. Your plan doesn't have to be complicated, but it does need to be documented. Remember, plans change, so don't be intimidated into thinking this is set in stone.

  • Determine who is going to monitor reviews
  • Ensure responses are going to be written with consistency
  • Remember the outlet you are responding on
  • Be clear, be concise, be courteous
  • Optional - Create a timeline/checklist for responses

Don't Just Wing It

While a quick response is important, the worst thing you can do is respond off the top of your head. Consistency is key. Consumers may ask the same question ten different times, in ten different make sure you're prepared.

  • Fully understand the issue, prior to responding
  • Don't be vague, offer a specific answer or fix
  • Reassure that future consumers won't run into the issue

Respond and Fix

You've sent a response, now what? Simple, if the issue can be fixed, fix it! Nobody likes negative reviews, but the information obtained can be quite valuable and could potentially make your business better. Oddly enough, a balance of negative reviews and positive reviews can often give greater credibility. Most consumers can sniff out a fake "5-star" review when they see one.

Ignoring the Review Won't Make it Go Away

The longer you wait, the worse it will get. You don't always have to agree with the review, heck, you probably never will if it's negative. Remember, opinions are opinions, and on the Internet...everyone's got one. The important thing is that you acknowledged the customer, offered a response, and hopefully an acceptable solution.

So where are you seeing most of your reviews come from?

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