Whether you are a business, a brand, a software creator, a content creator, a musician, or something else, everyone has had to deal with a negative online review at some point.
With a computer screen between you and the reviewer, many people feel emboldened to be cruel or at least rude in their negative reviews, even if that is not what they truly think of you or your product.
So what should you do to handle the situation and move on?
You cannot let a negative review derail you from your dream or business.
Here are a few tips for handling negative online reviews.
1- Do Not Get Defensive
While your natural, initial response is to get upset or angry, particularly if the review is especially rude, do not respond while you are simmering in this anger.
Allow yourself time to process the review and calm down.
If you respond while you’re angry, you will most likely say something that you will regret, be it something personal or something that hurts your business or brand.
Remember, everything on the internet is permanent; you do not want to garner a reputation for being a business that cannot handle negative feedback, which can be detrimental to your growth.
Should you choose to respond, which is recommended, be sure not to rub anything in the customer’s face or say something rude. It can be difficult to come across as genuinely apologetic without sounding as though you are admitting guilt, but it can be done.
2- Acknowledge and Apologize
As stated above, when responding to a negative review, be sure not to indicate anything to the customer that sounds like “You are wrong and I am right”. This comes off as petty and rude, and even though the customer may sound that way, you (as a business or creator) should be above that kind of behavior.
Instead, once you are calm, acknowledge whatever the main issue of the customer is, and apologize for the inconvenience or experience. Do not do anything that makes you sound guilty or truly vindicates the reviewer, but still be professional and courteous in your response.
By apologizing, you may rectify the situation. Studies of online reviews have shown that nearly a third of all negative reviews are resolved simply by empathizing and apologizing to upset customers.
3- Be Authentic
This may sound counter-productive since you are meant to come across as professional and promote your business, but often the personal touch is the key.
If you are comfortable doing so, when responding to a negative review, state your name, role in the company, and give a “personal” email or phone number where the customer can contact you directly.
This allows the customer to feel as though they were truly heard by a person rather than an inanimate entity like a business.
If you do not wish to give out personal information, which is understandable, consider creating a phone number or email specifically for business inquiries that leads directly to you.
4- Promote Your Business
Something that you can do in response to negative reviews is flip the script, which can often improve your brand’s image.
Do not go out of your way to force “good things” about your business into your response, but if the occasion arises, after you apologize and empathize, consider gently stating your business’s goals and why their negative experience is uncommon.
Be sure not to come across as condescending, as that can just make the situation worse, but by providing alternatives, customers might see that this one negative instance is not indicative of the whole.
5- Use It as a Learning Experience
Though often many negative reviews are simply knee-jerk responses to roadblocks, consider any negative review a learning experience for you or your business.
Always think of ways to improve your business, and even when you learn from the negative reviews, do not take them to heart.
Improve what needs to be improved in your business. Every business, even the best ones, always have room for improvement.
Such improvement could simply be how to handle negative reviews.