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How to Respond to Negative Customer Reviews

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When you’re considering buying a new pair of shoes, do you consider the merchant’s sales pitch about the quality of materials used in producing the shoes and their amazing durability, or would you instead take the word of someone who made a purchase previously? 

Most people would agree that reviews from previous customers weigh heavier when making purchasing decisions. According to Bright Local, 49% of all consumers say they trust the reviews they read online as much as personal recommendations. 

These statistics show that customer reviews play a huge role in influencing buyer decisions. Your goal as a company should be to make sure that your customer reviews and your response to those reviews represent your brand well.

 You may not have total control over the feedback customers leave you, but you have control over your response, and this matters!

Why are Customer Reviews So Important? 

Data gathered by Trust Pulse discovered that “over 99.9% of customers read reviews when they shop online and 96% of customers specifically look for negative reviews”. 

Online reviews are a marketing technique you can use to show potential customers the value of your company’s products or services. Including online customer reviews on your website offers many benefits.

Let’s highlight a few!

Builds Trust

74% of consumers say that reviews increase their trust in companies. Trust is one of the most valuable currencies in marketing today. Your ability to get your customers to trust your brand is invaluable. Customer reviews provide an authentic perspective and transparency that helps to build trust between a brand, customers, and potential customers. 

For example, when scrolling through an e-commerce website and reading reviews, you can quickly get an idea of the quality of service the company offers and can already begin to imagine what your experience with that brand may look like. 

Good reviews show that customers can trust your brand and expect to have a good experience if they choose to purchase from you.

Boosts Sales

Positive customer reviews serve as recommendations to potential customers who may be deciding between several similar products. Reviews serve as “proof” that your product or service is valuable and reputable. 

Positive online reviews can be the deciding factor that leads some shoppers to purchase your product. 

Since customers trust the opinions of other buyers who have already made a purchase, a good review can heavily influence other customers to make purchases from your brand, boosting your sales.

Business Insights

Reviews allow companies to communicate directly with customers. It will enable companies to understand better how customers feel about a product or service. 

They can provide you with insights into what is working and improvements that can be made to better customer satisfaction. 

Feedback in the form of reviews can also help your management team make necessary adjustments that can help better your company. Both negative and positive reviews are great tools that provide insight that can help inform decisions. 

Negative Reviews

No business is perfect.

Although you strive to provide the best experience possible to your customers, things might not always go as planned. According to Invesp, 86% of users will think twice about buying from a company with negative reviews. Responding to negative reviews is part of providing good customer service to your clients and it results in benefits for your business.

An important part of a successful business is focusing on using genuine customer reviews to improve your services and create an even better experience for future customers. 

But, as a business owner or marketer, when you receive these negative customer reviews, what next? 

Should You Respond to Negative Reviews?

The answer is, yes, you should respond to negative customer reviews. How you handle negative reviews greatly impacts how other customers perceive your company. 

53% of consumers want a fast response to negative reviews. That’s a high percentage, showing how crucial it is to respond to reviews, especially negative reviews. 

Negative reviews can be challenging to respond to and sometimes discouraging, however failing to respond to negative reviews can cause more harm than the negative reviews themselves.

Next, let’s discuss some best practices for responding to negative reviews.

Best Practices for Responding to Negative Customer Reviews 

Respond Promptly

Our minds are trained to want things quickly, this is why it is important to respond quickly to customer feedback. Consumers want to feel heard after they communicate a negative experience or complaint. 

ReviewTracker found that 33% of users expect to hear back from companies within 3 days of leaving a review. 

Responding promptly not only shows you care but also shows that as a brand, you are involved in giving your customers a good experience.

Although responding promptly is important, take time to formulate a proper response before answering. 

Acknowledge the Customer

Replying to customer reviews and addressing them by their first name, where appropriate, shows the customer that you genuinely care about their complaint and that you are committed to addressing their specific problem. 

It is also a good practice to thank the consumer for visiting your company and explain to them that they are valued as a customer. 

Take Responsibility and Apologize 

When addressing negative customer reviews, a little sympathy goes a long way. You do not always have to be at fault before you apologize; a negative review reflects a customer’s experience with your service.

Making sure that you take responsibility and offer empathy without getting defensive shows that you are genuinely sorry that they had an experience that did not meet their expectations. 

This makes you more credible in the eyes of the customers and other potential customers.

Offer a Solution to the Specific Complaint 

After taking responsibility and apologizing, the next step is to offer a practical solution to the specific complaint. 

Providing a solution looks different in various instances. In some cases, you may need to reach out to the customer privately to make sure that the complaint is adequately taken care of. 

When reaching out privately, offering an incentive like “your next order is on us’ ‘ or offering a discount on their next purchase after addressing the complaint could help diffuse the situation and win back the customer’s trust. 

However, be sure not to use the incentive as an attempt to make the customer forget about the bad experience, acknowledge the complaint, and then offer an incentive to show that you value their feedback as a customer.

Keep It Short and Simple

Customers leave a negative review because they are unhappy about something and want you to be aware of their displeasing experience. 

When responding to negative reviews, avoid asking follow-up questions, as this may aggravate an already dissatisfied customer. Instead, address the issue and go straight to the point of rendering a solution. 

If you feel the need to get more details about the experience, you can reach out privately after you’ve offered a solution, to get more details.

Now that we’ve discussed best practices, let’s look at an example of a well-crafted response to a negative review using some of the tips we discussed.

Example of A Good Response to a Negative Review 

In this example, a customer named Matthew left a negative review on Google about his negative experience at one of our stores. He was met by a rude sales attendant and was very unhappy with the customer service. 

A good response from the company could be:

“Hello Matthew, thank you for taking the time to leave us a review. We’re sorry to hear about your negative experience with one of our employees. It’s our top priority to look for ways to continually improve your experience as a customer. We would love to make things right and will be reaching out shortly to ensure this is resolved for you. Thank you!”

Customer reviews are a part of a successful business, and with that comes some negative reviews.

However, they present an opportunity to communicate with your customers and improve their experience moving forward.


Fisayo Adesola

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