Turning negative reviews into a positive

featured-negative-to-positiveIt’s just about the time when things are running smoothly and your business starts growing rapidly when, BOOM!  It happens.  You get you first bad review.  You first reaction is get upset and begin asking yourself why.  That’s understandable, but what you must realize is it’s not a question of why…it’s a question of when.  If your business is B2C (Business To Consumer) and you find some success, you will eventually get a bad review.

Respond with an apology for your customer’s experience. If it’s not your fault, apologize anyway. It’s still their perception that they were treated poorly. That is what you are really addressing.

First thing to do is take a deep breath and exhale.  Relax and do some investigation.  Do you know the person who wrote the review?  Does an employee remember this person?  Perhaps it’s a competitor looking to slander your business?  Are they using hate speech?  Get as much information as you can about the incident that sparked the negative review and the review itself.

Don’t be tempted to contact Yelp, Facebook or Google right away.  They will not consider deleting a negative review unless its rude, vulgar, sexually explicit, threatening, violent, suicidal, contains harassment or hate speech, or uses bad bad language.

We recently had a client receive a negative review that contained hate speech.  The last sentence stated, “If you don’t like Spanish and Mexican people making your food, then this restaurant is not for you.”  Not only did this reviewer immediately discredit himself, but also gave us the chance to flag it as hate speech and ask Google remove his review.

Cases like these are not as common, so if the negative review doesn’t contain any those negative conditions, it’s no use trying to get them removed.  Trust me.

Here is a more common scenario:   A hair salon receives a negative review.  Let’s call the reviewer Beth.  Beth wrote in her review that although she was happy with her makeup, she was very unhappy with her hair style.  Ok.  That’s fair, but the thing is, Beth did not let the salon owners know she was unhappy.  She just paid and left without stating her dissatisfaction and decided to write an very bad review on the salon’s social pages.  After determining that the review doesn’t meet the criteria to be removed, the first thing the salon does is immediately respond:

Hi Beth.  We were thrilled to learn that you were very happy with your make up, but truly sorry to learn that you were unhappy with your hair style at our salon.  We pride ourselves on our customer service and we do our best to make sure everyone is completely happy before they leave our salon.  Had we known that you were upset, we would have done everything in our control to make sure you were completely satisfied before you left.  Please accept our deepest apologies.  If you would like to try us again, we’d like to offer you a large discount on the service of your choice the next time you are in the area.

Respond with an apology for your customer’s experience.  If it’s not your fault, apologize anyway. It’s still their perception that they were treated poorly. That is what you are really addressing. Also, consider reaching out to the customer via email or a phone call to apologize personally and to extend an invitation to give your business a second chance, along with a gift certificate or coupon.

This will reflect positively on your business.  People who will read your reviews know that mistakes happen.  Readers also know that it’s impossible to make everyone happy.  Responding immediately with an apology and an attempt to make it right makes readers feel that you genuinely care about the customer experience and may actually work in your favor.  The sooner you respond, the less of a hit you take from the negative review standing alone.

It’s worth trying to turn a negative reviewer, as they can become a tremendous asset if they use their gift of gab for good, instead of evil.  People who take the time to publicly complain about your business are usually the ones who will publicly sing your praises high and wide about how you took the time to make it right.  Your biggest haters may become your best promoters.

After you reach out with the appropriate response, don’t worry about it another minute.   Sometimes they’ll take down their negative review down! Check back, and if they did, contact them again to say thank you.  It’s all about the relationship.  If they didn’t, no worries.  You did your best to make it right and it shows to all who will see it.  Take the high road and in the end, it will not affect your business negatively.


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