If you click on the links in this post, we may earn money from the companies mentioned in this post, at no extra cost to you. You can read the full disclaimer here.
Negative reviews online can be devastating to online businesses and brick and mortar stores. You’ve worked so hard to build your online reputation, and then with a few keystrokes, it can feel like all of that has been erased.
But the important thing to remember is that it is not the end of the world – and it sure isn’t the end of your business! Here at Website Tips & Tutorials we came up with our list of ways to deal with negative reviews online to help fellow business owners come back stronger and prevent it from hurting their business.
1. Don’t Let Their Words Ruin You
The first thing you need to do when you get a bad review is to take a deep breath and remember: you do not have to be defined by the words of one internet troll! Take their comments in, and if it is a valid complaint, see how you can use it to make your business even better but remember to try to not take it personally! I know this is way easier said than done because as small business owners, we put our heart and soul into our business and it is hard to separate the two. But remember, as business owners, we’ve all dealt with it, and we’ve all survived! And while there could be legitimate concerns you could address, most of the time negative reviews are basically just trolls. The internet makes it so easy for people to criticize and say horrible things without having any repercussions. People who spend lots of time harassing businesses and writing bad things probably do so because something in their life isn’t going well so feel bad for them instead of letting them ruin you. Don’t let them live rent free in your head. Take their complaint, find if there’s anything you can use (obviously nothing from a very clever “This sucks” or something similar can help you, so dismiss those) and then try not to think about it ever again. I know, easier said than done, but your happiness and mental health is important and I hope you don’t let that be compromised by a mean person.
2. Respond Quickly
So while you need to not let it bother you long term, you have to address it right away. Respond quickly so that the complaint isn’t just out there. But you may be thinking, how do you find out right away about a bad review? The best way to do that is to use a service that will give you notifications every time you get a review online so you don’t have to just sit on your business’s Google Page hitting refresh over and over again. Some companies that include that in their services are Online Search Wizard (though this is exclusive to dance studios), Reputation Manager, and Localworks.
3. Respond with Kindness
It is only natural to want to respond defensively, or point out how the review is wrong, especially when the review is, in fact, wrong. But a couple things about reacting that way: first of all, other customers can read this and if you stand too defensive, it can rub them the wrong way. The other problem here is if you end up going back and forth with the customer, it just draws more attention to the negative review, and obviously you don’t want that. So, instead, just respond with kindness. Thank them for their review, say you’re sorry they had a bad experience, and give them a phone number and tell them they can call you and you’ll talk about it with them further. They are most likely not going to call you, because most people who leave negative reviews wouldn’t want to actually talk to you; they would rather hide behind their keyboards. Every negative review I’ve ever gotten at businesses I have run have been from customers who were incredibly nice and complimentary to my face and just wrote the bad review online. But by saying you can call them, you’re giving the impression to potential customers who find the bad review that you are willing to talk and are agreeable. And that’s the kind of reputation that you want to build for your business.
4. Get Facebook Negativity Software
Negative reviews aren’t always written in actual review form. Negative comments to your Facebook posts can act the same way as a negative review. So if you’ve found yourself dealing with negative comments whenever your business posts on Facebook, then get Sour Grapes. Sour Grapes will automatically hide negative comments in real-time with 24/7 monitoring. They basically weed out the bad comment from good by scanning for blacklisted keywords, which are preset (and you can add your own). This is really great, especially if you are running Facebook ads because negative comments could really hurt your campaign and waste your money. And now is definitely the time to get Sour Grapes, because AppSumo is running a great deal where you can get lifetime access to Sour Grapes for just $49 which is a huge savings – and way less then what this great tool is worth!
5. Get Better Reviews to Outnumber It
Another great way to diminish the impact of a negative review is to get more positive reviews to help drown it out. Unfortunately, this can be difficult because people are much more likely to leave bad reviews than good reviews. Chances are, you have lots of customers who love your products or business but have never taken the time to actually leave a review. But there are ways to (subtly) encourage your customers to leave a good review. One way is with a newsletter. If you send out email newsletters to your customers, you could include in the newsletter a reminder to write a good review. If you use Constant Contact Email Plus, they have a great template for a Feedback/Review Email where you can send invitations asking your audience to rate and review your business on online sites (such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, etc.). You could also add links to your website asking customers to review you, too.