It’s often the fear that comes up when we talk about customer reviews. How should you react to negative reviews? Will they be published?
A fear that can slow down the implementation of a review collection system when, however, this type of system has become an essential tool for any online business.
In this article, we'll explain the importance of responding to bad reviews and provide you with our best tips for your review management.
What are negative reviews?
Negative or bad reviews are customer commentaries from people who've had a poor experience with your business. The bad experience might involve issues with a product, service, or another aspect of your company that didn't meet the user's expectations.
Consumers can leave reviews for businesses on numerous platforms, such as Google, Yelp, and social media networks like Facebook that allow this feature. Although receiving 1- or 2-star negative reviews is never fun, the bottom line is that companies should look at each review as an opportunity to work on getting better.
Why respond to business reviews, negative or positive?
Today, nearly 85% of internet users admit to consulting online reviews.
This figure corroborates the importance of social proof and the need for shoppers to compare offers and to turn to "recommended" businesses.
Regardless of the type of establishment or site, online reviews allow consumers to know if they are right to turn to a particular offer and become aware of potential issues based on reviews that are supposed to be impartial.
All fields of activity are affected by online reviews because all platforms for contacting professionals on the internet contain rating services. Doctor, restaurant, bar, personal service, ecommerce store... Each professional can be rated and commented on by internet users.
Responding to a review on Google, for example, whether positive or negative, will allow you to provide information about the comments left, explain the efforts made in case of bad experiences, thank users for taking the time to express themselves, display empathy for the consumer, and go further in the presentation of your business.
Professionals’ responses to the comments left by internet users also makes it possible to enhance the brand image. In case of positive comments, you create a link with engaged customers. In case of negative comments, you can take a step towards the unhappy customer to make it up to them and build long-term loyalty. We all have the right to make mistakes, as long as we own up to them and want to get better!
These parameters are also valid for ecommerce. Just as we would hesitate to enter an empty restaurant, internet users like to see that other people were satisfied with their purchases on a site before validating their own shopping cart.
For 91% of those who consult and study reviews concerning products and/or companies, be they on Amazon, Google, Yelp, or another platform, these reviews are the number one factor in their purchasing decision. It’s therefore an element of your online reputation that shouldn’t be neglected!
How should you deal with negative reviews?
There are no really negative reviews. This is the first thing to understand. There are only mistakes and so much the better if we can correct them.
Remember that the majority of internet users don't expect a site to be faultless 100% of the time.
On the other hand, they all want to be sure that if there is a problem, they’ll be treated well.
Bad reviews are therefore a great opportunity for you to show how you handle customer relations following a dispute.
You should know that 95% of dissatisfied shoppers come back to buy on the site if their problem has been resolved. It would be a shame to let dissatisfied customers go when you can build loyalty by listening to them and responding to their comments on social networks, review sites, etc. in a timely manner and earn a second chance.
Moreover, having a few negative reviews also allows you to give credibility to all your reviews, whether they're on your website or on your product pages.
As long as the share of reviews between 0 and 3 stars doesn’t exceed 5%, showing a variety of comments, rather than all good reviews, makes shoppers less skeptical about their authenticity.
Finally, customer feedback is a valuable source of information. We know that success on the web depends, in large part, on our ability to adapt to our customers, to know them better.
This is why we look for tools that allow us to perform social monitoring, analyze trends, study common issues faced by buyers, refine our target, or improve our conversion funnel.
Reviews can help you answer these questions. Many ecommerce businesses have admitted to having modified their site or services (menu, filter, product pages, added references, policies, providers, delivery, payment methods, etc.) following recommendations from their buyers.
Google, TripAdvisor, Yelp, Facebook: How do you handle negative online reviews?
So you’ve solicited consumers and found solutions to get customers to leave reviews, but the feedback is negative? Here are the 7 golden rules to help you to optimize your review management and turn a bad review into a real advantage.
1. Write an original message: No copy and paste
Nothing is worse than when companies don't differentiate their answers to the comments left by shoppers!
While it can be difficult to find inspiration to answer a positive message or to say the same thing in substance to several reviews, you owe it to yourself to personalize your communication in the comments you send to your customers.
If you don't do it for that particular shopper, do it for your brand image: future potential customers looking for reviews of your business won’t look kindly on the fact that you’re systematically copying and pasting your responses.
Always keep in mind that ecommerce reviews in particular are as important for the person who left the review as they are for the person who will read it later in order to become your customer. Copy and paste, in any content strategy, is always a bad solution.
Even if it's to complain, the user is addressing your store in particular. It’s up to you to show the same attention by adding a personal touch to your response.
2. Say thank you in response to any comment!
Saying thank you to a positive comment seems natural and normal. The difference that you’ll make compared to your competition is to say thank you to a negative comment, which criticizes your company or your products.
Of course, this internet user is upset. But they took the time to write a comment and explain their dissatisfaction.
So start by saying thank you for their approach and then show that you’re sorry that their customer experience wasn’t satisfactory.
You can say thank you, even if the review is negative, because it’ll allow you to improve in the future: if this user hadn’t left a critical review on one of your product features or business policies, would you have been aware of the problem without it? You can challenge yourself thanks to the shopper's negative comments, if the review is constructive.
Thanking the user means considering their remark as relevant, and it’s also a way to recognize that perfection doesn’t exist but that you’ll do everything to get better in the future!
3. Keep your cool to buy your peace of mind in the long run
Customer reviews sometimes put human beings to the test. Rudeness, bad faith, etc.: you may be confronted with some uncivil behaviors.
Nevertheless, not losing your cool is the key to humanize your business and show that you prefer to look for a solution to calm the situation rather than fuel the argument.
One of the well-known tips for online merchants is this: never react to a bad review on the spot. You’ll only let your nerves take over the good marketing practices that you’re trying to convey.
When you receive a negative review, put it aside for a few hours before responding in a calm and positive manner.
4. Restaurant, ecommerce, touristic place... Use humor to fix bad customer reviews!
No matter what sector you’re in!
As we’ve seen, the web is full of these gems of community managers who knew how to reverse a negative opinion with a line of humor.
Without trying to do too much and without falling into nonchalance, a few jokes can surely save you from earning bad buzz. Sometimes, the best way is to short circuit the conflict with a good dose of humor, while being open to discussion with the disgruntled customer.
This technique can perhaps play down the situation and show future customers who are interested in your company that you know how to take customer opinions into consideration, while bringing a bit of humor into your direct communication. This serves as proof of authenticity and a strength that’ll allow you to stand out from other offers on the internet.
5. Make your mea culpa to set an example
The first step in making a move towards the disgruntled buyer is forgiveness: apologize at the beginning of your comment to accept the remark before explaining why you didn't live up to it. This can go a long way in helping the user to feel understood. You can also accept the criticism by apologizing without explaining why.
Once the apology is made, show empathy towards the user and open the discussion towards the end of the conflict by explaining what measures you’ll take to ensure that this type of experience doesn’t happen again or by offering people a promotional offer, such as a promo code or a small gift, to make up for it.
Of course, it might happen that this or that aspect of your business (such as delivery in ecommerce for the e-merchant) is not really your responsibility, and you’re tired of being blamed for your provider's delays.
Nevertheless, it’s normal that your customers come to you when they don’t receive their order in when they expect or in bad condition.
Therefore, be able to absorb all the reproaches, even when you’re not directly responsible.
6. Pay attention to your offers and your marketing strategy
When you receive positive or negative feedback, always keep an eye on what you offer in terms of services and/or products. Take note of the positive points to continue in this direction and note the negative points to correct them.
Customer feedback should be taken into consideration and integrated into your marketing strategy: you can turn them into conversion levers thanks to well-written responses.
Yes, your responses to a bad review will be public and visible to all.
They’ll therefore become a showcase of your qualities as an e-merchant and your philosophy in terms of customer relations and after-sales service.
Ensure that your policies for responding to comments prioritize direct contact with your customer when the case requires it.
7. Don't neglect reviews on the internet
Sometimes, a 5-star review will include a nuance, a question, a wish.
Without going so far as to perform an in-depth study of each review, demonstrate that you pay attention to all your customer feedback, especially when they try to give a constructive review.
Be vigilant and monitor your brand image on all possible platforms. Whether it's positive or negative, each review is an opportunity to develop your business and deserves answers: silence is your worst enemy.
When working on the strategy for your review management, it's up to you to find the tone, the style, and the possible answers to highlight your company and your products and show empathy, all while taking any criticisms into consideration.
Trust is earned: negative reviews, if they exist, can be used by users and future customers to improve your reputation, provided you know how to respond to them. Using customer reviews for your business can only be beneficial for your future growth.
Google, Tripadvisor, Yelp, shopping guides, comparison sites, social networks: be on the lookout for all reviews, without exception!