If you own a business, and you are online, chances are that you’ve received a negative Google review. The urge to retaliate after a customer has left your business a bad review online can be tempting but the secret to maintaining your reputation online is all about how you respond.

We know you put the hours in every day to ensure you’re offering your customers only the best in your biz, but now more than ever is a great time to use that age-old advice your mother gave you and “be the bigger person”. 

This doesn’t mean allowing someone to slam your business online, rather, responding in a way that will help you continue to build trust with your customers and provide clarity around any mishaps. 

These experiences also give you an opportunity to showcase your own professionalism and willingness to take feedback and advice. This shows that you are open to constructive criticism and are willing to make changes in your business that will help improve the customer experience. 

So what should you do first when responding to negative Google reviews? 

Respond quickly! You’ll want to nip these reviews in the bud as quickly as you can to try to correct the problem and show that you are proactive in resolving it.

Responding in a timely fashion will also show that you are active and interested in resolving any negative feedback and have the customer’s satisfaction in mind.

As an overview, you’ll want to be courteous, thank them for their feedback, and acknowledge that their experience wasn’t up to par.

As a generic template and a great place to start you’ll want to say something like:

Dear “name of reviewer”, 

Thank you so much for your feedback. It is feedback like this that helps us improve our customer experience. This is an unusual situation that we would like to prevent in the future! 

Please feel free to reach out to “contact information” directly and if you are willing to, we would like to have this resolved as quickly as possible. Thank you!

Let’s break this down, so you can respond to negative reviews in a constructive way

1. Personalize your response 

When building relationships it’s important to remember names and address people directly, this makes people feel seen and important to you. The rules don’t change for online reviews. Always avoid generic responses and where you can, use the person’s name directly. 

2. Thank Customers for their Feedback 

You will want your customers and others visiting your page to know that you appreciate and value their feedback. Thanking your customers for their reviews (even the bad ones) goes a long way.

Consider these courteous starters to your reply: 

“Thank you for your review. I’m sorry to hear your experience was frustrating but I appreciate you bringing it to my attention”

“Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We are sorry you had a bad experience, we will drive to do better next time”

“Thank you for letting us know about this. Your feedback helps us do better. We are looking into this issue and hope to resolve it as soon as possible.”

3. Acknowledge Your Mistakes 

The strongest thing you can do as a business is to acknowledge if and when you’ve made a mistake in the first place, even if it is uncommon. This is also an opportunity to look toward the future and provide a solution.

Focusing on your standards and the steps you’ll take to make it right, is a lot more helpful to the customer and shows that you are willing to continuously improve.

Some things you can say are: 

“We are so sorry for your experience! We are normally known for being detailed oriented, and this isn’t indicative of the service we provide”

“We are always focused on delivering the very best service. We’re sad this didn’t hit the mark this time but thank you for your feedback. We will use it to ensure better service in the future so that this doesn’t happen again.”

4. Work to Make it Right and Ask for a Re-Review 

When dealing with negative feedback, ensure that your customers are being heard. 

Avoid cliche responses that don’t deal with the issues directly and provide an overview of the situation and offer to resolve the issues to make it right. 

If you can, offer customers a resolution with a discount, gift card, replacement item etc. 

After that, ask the customer to go back and edit their review. It doesn’t hurt to ask, especially if you’ve worked to resolve the issue. 

In the unlikely situation that there is nothing you can do about it, take ownership of your mistakes and offer to make it right in the future. 

You can say something like: 

Dear “name of reviewer”,

We are very sorry to hear about your experience with us and rest assured that your situation was an exception. As you can see from other reviews, we take pride in caring for our customers and taking ownership. We can’t fix the past but it is our personal responsibility to ensure that our staff serves every customer with respect and politeness. Until then, please accept our sincerest apologies on behalf of every member of our team. 

5. Take the Issue Offline 

Another great way to resolve an issue is not to do it in an open forum and to provide an email address as a direct form of contact. This way a customer can contact you directly.

Taking the issue to your inbox opens the conversation up to further resolution and provides the customer a more personalized response. This is another great way to show your customer that you care about finding a resolution.

There are many great ways to address bad customer reviews that leave your customers happy and your reputation intact.   

After all, feedback, even when it’s bad, can help identify areas of your business that need improvement and can be a cornerstone to improve a product or service that you may not have considered before. 

Remember, at the end of the day, the person behind the screen is a human too, so treat them with respect, positivity, and aim to make things right again. 

You are in your business because you are the best at what you do, this also means being great at addressing customer concerns and continuing to build trust with your customers online.

Interested in knowing how to improve organic click-through rate? Read more about this and other SEO topics on our blog today.