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Responding to Negative Reviews

Is there such a thing as “bad publicity”?

There is for Small Businesses!

There is an old saying in marketing that says, “There is no such thing as bad publicity”. While this may be true for celebrities and big business, it is not necessarily true for small businesses.

Getting a negative review on social media such as Facebook, Yelp or even Google, can be frustrating. This can be especially frustrating when it is inaccurate, such as the customer has never even been to your facility. So how do you deal with responding to reviews, especially when it is someone you haven’t seen?

The Road Less Traveled

Mountain top dirt road with no cars representing the high road

To start with, take the high road. Even if you are 100% correct, anything other than the high road will lead to more negativity and bad publicity. And again, there is such thing as bad publicity.

First of all, don’t lose sleep over this. We believe you should reply to all reviews and posts. One you have posted the facts from your view point, don’t engage anymore. If they are angry and want to start a “Facebook War”, let it go. We would suggest that you state things in such a ways as to not put blame on anyone including your business, your staff or the customer.

Stick to the Facts!

wooden letter cube blocks with fake turning to fact

Once you have stated your facts, future viewers will read your response and will come to their own conclusion. Most will see this as either a big misunderstanding or your business as being in the wrong. If their conclusion is that your business was wrong, you will be okay without them.

You could start your response with something such as “We are so sorry that you had a bad experience. We clearly need to do a better job of explaining our service and the cost associated with those services. Our staff always operate with the goal of customer service as a top priority…” and then go from there. But, keep is short and to the point.

This is never an easy thing to deal with but don’t place blame; rather sympathize with them. Most people will respect your stance. And remember; don’t get into a battle online. Once it’s there, it never goes away.

Readers Will Decide

Gavel as a symbol of justice and decision making

Think of yourself and the customer as two people who must go to court. One is the plaintiff and the other is the defendant. When the judge asks the plaintiff to provide his side of the story and the defendant to provide his side; and you hear two totally different stories. You may think to yourself, “are they even talking about the same incident?” Or, “okay, someone must be lying?” Well, it is likely that neither of these options are true. What actually happened is probably somewhere in the middle. It is up to the judge to determine what is the most factual; what really happened. If you’ve ever watched one of those judge shows on television, you may have noticed that someone may be winning their case, but they continue to talk and end up changing the judge’s mind, prior to him/her making a decision.

When you are “telling your side of the story” (your business’s side) keep it short, and to the point. The more you say, the more likely you are to come across as arrogant, righteous, condescending or accusatory. Say what you need to say and then leave it alone. Leave it up to your current customers to “defend” you and your potential customers to make up their own mind about the situation.

Of course, sometimes the court system gets it wrong, and some potential customers will as well. Just don’t continue to dwell in the past. State the facts from your perspective and allow readers to “judge” the situation.

Your Business Will Survive

Single sunflower with blue skies in background representing survival

Even if you’re a very small business, you likely have dozens of clients and losing (or not gaining) one or even two or three customers isn’t going to affect you greatly. The negative comment will affect your 5.0 rating on Google or Facebook, but sometimes a 4.9 brings some authenticity to the rating. Some people are leery of a perfect score. People want to know that you have flaws. We’re all human and we can’t please everyone, no matter how hard we try. Continuing to comment will only keep that review at the top. If you leave it alone, just like a wound, it will eventually heal.