5 common mistakes to avoid when writing negative review responses

No business ever wants to see a negative review appear on popular review sites like Google+ Local or TripAdvisor. Unfortunately for most businesses, receiving a negative online review is going to happen.

By now, you’ve learned that you cannot ignore negative online reviews, and most online review sites will not let you delete them. This means that you need to respond to the reviewer. Not only does this calm them down, but it also shows other potential customers who visit the review site that you take the time to alleviate situations.

When it comes to responding to negative reviews, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it. The following are five common mistakes that some businesses make when it comes to responding to negative online reviews.

Mistake #1: Taking too long to respond
If it takes you weeks or months to respond to a negative online review, you’re not going to fix the situation. You need to respond to these negative reviews as soon as possible. If you wait too long, you’re simply allowing the negative review to marinate, and you’re allowing the reviewer to spread their disdain for you on other channels or allowing other customers to feed off the negative review. This is why it’s extremely important to use a tool like Review Trackers so that you can monitor what is being said about your company on the review sites and respond quickly.

Mistake #2: Getting angry
You may be angry the minute you read the negative review, especially if it sounds fake. But you absolutely cannot respond to a negative review while you’re upset. If you get angry with the reviewer and start to call them names or accuse them of lying, it’s only going to make the situation worse. Make sure that you always write your responses with a clear head and a clear, concise, courteous and correct tone.

Mistake #3: Finger pointing
We all love to put someone else under the bus for our own mistakes, but when you start to blame other people or other events for your poor review, it still makes your company look bad. Nobody wants a business to blame their employees, or the weather, or the fact that you were understaffed as the reason for poor service or a poor experience. No matter what may have been happening that day, you need to just take the blame yourself.

Mistake #4: Not apologizing
All that your reviewer wants to hear is an apology from your company. That apology may just be enough to get them back in the door at your business. If you don’t say 'I’m sorry' somewhere in your response, you’re reviewer is not going to pay attention to any of the other things that  you say.

Mistake #5: Not fixing the situation
Along with your apology, you need to let the customer know how you plan on righting the situation. Will you take steps to improve customer service? Will you make sure that your bathrooms are always clean? You need to address all the issues that were mentioned in their review and let them know how you’re going to fix it.

With most online communication, especially if it's of the negative variety, most effective business communication courses stress that it's generally a good idea to address the complaint in the first sentence, followed by some from of apology and then what you're going to do to fix the problem. At the end of the letter, invite the person who made the complaint/gave the bad review to contact you in person, or come into your business to talk about it.

Negative online reviews don’t have to ruin your business as long as you know how to handle them properly. If you’re at fault for making one of these five mistakes, you’re not going to make the situation any better. But if you fix these mistakes, you’ll tackle the negative reviews with ease.

About the Author
Caleb Grant is a review management expert and prolific writer.  He recently wrote an article about how to respond to negative reviews.

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