Negative online reviews: Answer ‘em? Ignore ‘em?
If you’re a business owner, no doubt you’ve at least run across (or perhaps obsessed over) your reviews – mainly your negative online reviews. They pop up on Facebook, Twitter and Google My Business. Often they’re found on Yelp or the BBB website. Some of them are glowing; others are objective; others are just plain weird; and still others are raging.
And as insurance agencies, we get more than our share of the red-hot negative online reviews because an insured didn’t get 100 percent – or 110 percent – of the claim cost back. Or they thought they were covered for an incident that’s not in their policy.
No business is immune from negative online reviews – it’s just part of doing business with the public. And negative reviews are important, too, because they can better a business and ultimately drive growth. They reveal what customers really think of your product or service, how the customer experience is, and any other issues that might not otherwise be immediately obvious to you. Of course, we all know that customers who’ve had a negative experience are far more likely to leave a review than those who had a positive experience. According to ReviewTrackers, a consumer is 21 percent more likely to leave a review after a negative experience than a positive one.
How to respond to negative online reviews
First, respond as quickly as you can, within the first 24 hours. Show that you take their review seriously, and you’re not trying to blow them off. Politely explain the situation. If you’ve made a mistake, own up to it and make it right. If it will take a little time, explain that. Often, your words and your tone are key to turning the negative into a positive – or at least, a neutral. Be informal in your tone – don’t use a boilerplate response. Be human. Remember: it’s not just this person who will be reading your response. Many others will see it as well.
If they are hostile, word your response extremely carefully, and do your best to take the conversation offline via Yelp’s private message tool, Facebook Messenger, or by providing your email address. Don’t try to win an argument – you’ll only escalate the situation, and you won’t win.
Learn more about dealing with various kinds of reviewers from the infographic below, provided by Fundera, a company providing loan options to small businesses.