Online reviews are critical for local businesses.  A local business without them may find it hard to generate leads and conversions without the right number of reviews, quality reviews and recent reviews.  There are several sites a customer can leave reviews for a business.  Google, Facebook, Yelp, Travelocity are of the most popular sites to leave a review.  Depending on your industry, focusing your efforts on reviews may be the # 1 reason you convert a lead.  In addition to generating and converting leads, your reviews will help you rank better.  Search engines look favorably on businesses with a high number of reviews.

While generating reviews is critical, responding to them is just as important.  Responding to reviews builds brand loyalty and is a great opportunity to engage with your customers.

How to respond to negative reviews

Relax, it’s not the end of the world.  You received a negative review, you’re human.  Its how you respond to negative reviews that really matters.  Being a local business owner isn’t easy.  Juggling day to day tasks and training new employees is a daunting task, if only your customers could understand! Remember this isn’t a boxing match or an opportunity to pass blame.  Instead, look at it as an opportunity to let your customers know that you are working on staffing issues and perhaps get them to realize you need a pass and you will do better.  Here are some steps to guide your thru the process of responding to your negative reviews.

5 Steps to guide you thru the process of responding to negative reviews.

Step 1: Take a deep breath!

Take a deep breath and do not allow yourself to get overly frustrated.  Instead reflect on the reviewer’s message for a moment and learn from it.  While its best practice to reply to reviews within 24 hours you don’t always have to rush to respond once posted.  Take the time to ask your employees questions and investigate further.  You may find the feedback is helpful on improving your business.  Turn the negative to a positive.

Step 2: Thank you?

Yes, thank the reviewer for taking the time to provide feedback.  Without the feedback how else can your business improve.  Acknowledging a customer complaint is good customer service.

Step 3: Ensure your customer that you will do better.

After you thank the reviewer for the feedback let them know that you will take the information provided and discuss it with your staff or use it to improve the services offered.  Constructive criticism can go a long way.  Communicate any improvements or changes you will or have already made as a result of their feedback.

Step 4: Move the conversation offline

If the reviewer is out of line with his comments or you truly believe they are wrong, why not move the conversation offline.  Ask them to reach out to you via email for more details and allow yourself the opportunity to gather more information.

Remember the way you respond will reflect on your business.  It’s important to remain calm and always stay polite no matter what the comments are.  Your temperance in your response will show potential customers your commitment to customer service.

Step 5: Make things right

Avoid generic responses that don’t allow you to make it up to your customer.  Invite them to email you for the opportunity to make things right.  Once your customer sends you an email offer them a discount on their next visit.  You never know they may decide to edit their negative review.

10 great example review templates to help guide your negative review response

Take a look at these response templates to help you formulate your negative review response:

Thank you {Reviewer Name} for writing this review. We take pride in giving outstanding service and we’re saddened to see we missed the mark. Your detailed review will make us better. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

Hi {Reviewer Name}

We are terribly sorry to learn that we have let you down.  Your constructive criticism will allow us the opportunity to improve and do better.  We sincerely appreciate you bringing this to our attention.  We are always looking for ways to improve.  Please email {company email} and allow us the opportunity to make things right by you.  We appreciate your time and do hope that you will reach out to us soon.

Hi {Reviewer Name}

Your detailed review is very thoughtful and we are happy to receive all the feedback. We will definitely address your review with all our staff both the good and bad. We especially appreciate you pointing out… Thanks for being such a loyal customer.

Hi {Reviewer Name}

While I totally agree that the situation is quite frustrating, we believe that this issue was an isolated incident.  We would appreciate the opportunity at a second chance.  Please contact {company email} and allow us the opportunity to book your next reservation.  This will ensure that we take all the necessary steps at providing you with the 5-star experience we are known for.

Hi {Reviewer Name}

We are sorry to hear of your disappointment on your recent {order / visit}. Please email {company email} with your contact information so that we have the opportunity to address your review. We value your business.

Dear {Reviewer Name}

Thank you for taking the time to provide your feedback.  I’m so sorry to hear you had a frustrating experience.  We apologize that our service did not meet your expectations.  Your comments allow us the opportunity to do better.  We are looking into the issue and hope to resolve it promptly.  Please do not allow this isolated incident stop you from giving us another chance.  We are confident that your next experience will be worthy of a 5-star review.

Dear {Reviewer Name}

Please accept our deepest apologizes on behalf of everyone at {location name}.  This incident is rare and not the custom service.  As you can see based on our overall review rating, we put customer service first and strive to always provide a 5-star customer experience.  Please allow us another opportunity to show you a more enjoyable and pleasant experience.  We truly value your business.

Dear {Reviewer Name}

We are sorry to hear of your disappointment on your recent order.  Please email {company email} with your contact information so that we have the opportunity to address your review.  We value your business.

Dear {Reviewer Name}

We are truly sorry about your recent experience at {location name}.  Please reach out to {company email} with your contact information so that we have the opportunity to gather the information needed to further assist you.  We value our customers and stand behind our work and would like the opportunity to make things right for you.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Dear {Reviewer Name}

While I totally agree that the situation is quite frustrating, we want you to know that this is not the norm for us at {location name}.  This isolated issue should have never happened.  We kindly request you to give us another chance.  As you can see from our reviews that we strive t give the utmost customer care and I assure you that once you come back you will be happy with the outcome.

Hopefully these reviews templates help give you a good idea on how to properly respond to your customer reviews.  If its difficult for you to take the emotion out of responding to a negative review then consider hiring an outside reputation management company.  This will ensure that the responses are well thought out and appropriate.  It will also allow you to focus on the day-to-day tasks of running your business.