Social media marketing can be tricky to navigate for someone with a new business, especially when faced with the vast audience that the internet can hold. While we always try our best to make sure things go according to plan, it can’t be helped when they don’t. When everyone has the chance to say what they feel, it leaves room for people to say things that don’t exactly shine a positive light on you—or your business. That’s why learning how to respond to negative reviews of your business is an important skill you should have, even if you want to believe you’ll never need it.

Bad reviews exist—they come at any time, from any place, regardless of how hard business owners try to make sure each customer experience is simply sublime. However, as daunting as they may seem, there are ways to combat negative reviews. So don’t fear, don’t fret, and don’t worry! We’ll get through it together—with a little help from our friends, of course, and I’ll tell you how to respond to negative reviews in more ways that one.

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

The CLICK Technique: K for “Keep Going”

Before we get into the details of how to respond to negative reviews of your business, however, we have to talk about The CLICK Technique. The CLICK Technique is a service I started (that you can get in on for free!) that helps business owners alike get the start-up they need for generating the success they deserve in just five steps! Each letter in the word CLICK stands for something different—a key element you’ll want to put into practice that makes the take-off run as smoothly as possible. With guaranteed results, trust me—you’ll want to get in on this, too.

For this instance, we’ll be focusing on the last letter, “K”. This stands for “Keep Going”, a phrase we urge all people to remember, especially when things are really starting to take off. After you’ve laid down the initial ground work and have reached a base audience, you can’t let your efforts stop there. You’ve got to push forward and keep going in order to repeat your successes ten times over.

In the case of how to respond to negative reviews, we need to move forward from experiences like this. Despite all odds, we need to keep going in order to make sure we’re still doing the best we can for our business. If we let things like negativity control what we do, then we’re not truly succeeding. We simply need to keep going!

How To Respond To Negative Reviews: A 3 Step Process

We’ve all been there—a nightmare scenario, where your business has gotten a bad review on Yelp, or Google, or on the Facebook page itself. In fact, in our recent Traffic and Leads podcast, we talked to local business owner—Kim Ransom—and she shared her own experience with internet swarms, and bad reviews.

Owner and operator of not one, but two businesses—Gym Fox in a Box, an online subscription service, as well as Pittsburgh Gymnastics Club—she’s no stranger to the feeling. Just recently, a crusade was led against her and her business, involving a slew of negative posts and reviews from a woman who was truly dissatisfied with her time at the gym. However, Kim handled the situation wonderfully, and though taking down a monster that scary can seem intimidating, you can do it, too.

In Kim’s situation, a woman had left a negative Google review of her gymnastics club after an incident with the staff, who were simply trying to work with her. According to Kim, this woman had been on their radar already for not following rules entirely, specifically ones pertaining to the dress code. The situation came to a boil after Kim had tried to resolve a problem, and the woman stated she no longer wanted to pay for her service there. So, Kim promptly assured her all charges would stop, and she would no longer have to pay the gym. Her time was done, and that was that.

Sadly, this woman went on to tell her tale online. It started first with a phone call, where she needed reassurance that her charges would cease. After a second confirmation, she took to the internet, posting long rants on the gym’s Facebook page, as well as popular sites like Google Reviews and Yelp. A tirade of negativity flew in all at once, and while things seemed bleak, Kim took a night to rest before tackling the situation in the morning.

Step 1: Have A Support System

Kim called on her staff and her supporters for help in simply drowning out the personal issues this woman seemed to have with positivity—giving the gym good reviews, posting about positive things, and essentially pushing the unsavory details to the bottom of the page. The Yelp review was reported for being a personal attack as opposed to a constructive criticism and was quickly taken down, and the Facebook posts faded into oblivion among the swelling support Kim received from the people who know her and care for her.

Reaching out is the first, and maybe the most important, step towards how to respond to negative reviews, and what to do when you find yourself on the end of a cyber attack. Just as Kim did, don’t be afraid to reach out to the community you’ve already built—whether it be through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other social media platforms you might be using to stay in touch with your core audience. Make sure to keep things professional, of course, and a word to the wise suggests that you don’t take to social media for the sole purpose of defending yourself. Instead, reach out to the loyal community you’ve fostered and simply ask for their help in drowning out the negativity.

Ask them to leave good reviews, to tweet their satisfaction with the work you do, and so on—by the end of the day, their overwhelming support should drown out the naysayers in a pretty big way.

Step 2: Take Negative Reviews Seriously, and Act Promptly

An issue people often face is the struggle of taking negative responses seriously. Most of the time—in certain cases—people are willing to ignore them and brush them off, as opposed to facing them head on. While it could work if your business is big enough and has the room to let bad news fall off the edge, most small businesses cannot afford the same luxury. Tackling these things head on is truly the best and most efficient way to make sure things get handled.

Look at Kim! Though people have nothing but good things to say about her business normally, she didn’t ignore the sudden turn, regardless of how small of an issue it might’ve seemed. As soon as the incident began forming, Kim was on the scene, doing everything she could to assure the customer that things would he handled as quickly as possible. Reassuring phone calls and personal contact quelled the storm—as much as it could—until things became too big to handle on her own, and that’s something to admire in a small business owner. Kim took the negativity seriously from the beginning, ensuring that the situation would be resolved as quickly as it could.

As well as taking the issue seriously, you’ve also got to be on top of your game. Make sure to respond to the issue as soon as it forms. In Kim’s situation, she was aware of the negative review almost as soon as it was posted. It merely took her half a day to get the negative Yelp review taken down, as well as drowning out the noise on Facebook and other websites, such as Google, with positivity from her peers.

Had Kim waited any longer, we can’t say if she’d seen the same success—right now, her gym is doing just as well as before, and her online presence is overwhelmingly positive. Her promptness gave her the time to do much needed damage control, and containment, as far as the negativity went. An important second step in how to respond to negative reviews requires you to take the posts as seriously as you would with anything else concerning your business.

Step 3: Figure Out The Best Way To Respond

Though it may seem slightly obvious at first, figuring out the best way to respond to the negative review is something you’ll need to consider carefully. Sometimes, making a huge scene about things online can only lead to disaster, and letting emotions cloud your judgment of what to do can lead you down this dangerous path. Make sure you’re tackling the issue in the best way possible in order to truly solve the problem.

The debate here is a public response versus a private response. Sometimes, a combination of both can really get the job done! In Kim’s case, she handled the phone calls of outcry from the displeased customer with ease. And instead of replying to the negativity online—in the form of a Yelp or Facebook response—she flooded out the negativity with positivity, using strength in numbers to overpower what this woman was trying to achieve.

If you think you can handle it publicly, then give your customer service skills a test and try to respond as quickly and genuinely as possible. Reassurance, especially the reassurance that you’re truly listening to someone, can go a long way. After all, sometimes a bad review is based on a customer’s feelings; when someone’s already having a bad day, they need a place to shove those negative emotions. Though it’s not always fair, that place could be your business. A cordial interaction and an offer to make the situation better can do wonders in the long run.

Alternatively, don’t be afraid to reach out to customers personally! A direct approach can make someone feel more valued, like their concerns and criticisms are being heard. Plus, squashing the debacle away from the eyes of the internet can ensure that things get resolved in a neat and tidy manner. From there, you can really control the situation, and cleaning up the review boards after having a one on one discussion with the person who was displeased in the first place becomes a task that’s easier to handle.

It could be easy to fold under the pressure of a sudden cyber attack, but Kim’s gym is still flourishing, and the outcry of support and positivity shines a great light on the business she’s created. In her words: when handling how to respond to negative reviews, you’ve got to keep your cool, make a plan of action, and, most importantly, ask for help! Don’t be afraid to call on people you know you can trust to give you a bit of support when things go awry.

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