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How to Respond to a Negative Review

If you are here, you probably have received a negative review and you don’t yet know how to respond. That’s ok! After 10+ years of working in a customer focused industry, I am sharing my PR tips and tricks with you. Here is my strategy on how you can respond to a negative review

DIFFERENT TYPE OF REVIEWS

The first thing we have to understand, is that each type of review is different, therefore your response to the review will be different. 

Here are 3 common negative reviews that are commonly received, and how I like to manage them.

Negative Review from Someone You Never Worked With

I like to think of this kind of review, as your “I made it” moment. Unless you have upset an entire family of people (I will address this one later), this review is likely from some other business owner in your industry who is jealous and bitter about your success.

Don’t get upset. Don’t fester in the negativity they are bringing you, because if you bring yourself down to their level, guess what? THEY WIN! That is not the outcome you want.

Immediately work on your mindset. Create a little mantra for yourself right now, so you can use it every time you receive some negative feedback. Something like “I am so amazing that even my enemies want my attention” and say it with a little giggle.

Ok, now that you have the right mindset, let’s write out your response. Have you ever heard about the KISS method? Well, we are going to use it here. 

KEEP IT SIMPLE STUDENT!

Any response should be a simple response. So simply say “Hello <Karen>. Thank you for taking the time to leave a review. I have no record of having worked with you. If you would like to message me directly, I am sure we can work out the <insert problem>.”

Negative Review from a Demanding Client

When you get a negative review from someone who was a very demanding client, and you worked your a** off trying to please them, it can feel like the world is crashing down on your shoulders.

Remember that mantra you created? Pull it out! Say it three times and then walk away from the computer until you feel like you have the mindset to address the review.

Now KISS that review goodbye with a simple answer.

“Hello . Thank you for taking the time to leave a review. We at take pride in our work, and we would like to make this right. I will immediately and personally message you to discuss a time we can speak over the phone to resolve .”

Now Sharon could be 100000000% wrong in her assessment, and that’s fine. Because responding to the review isn’t about her, its about your future customers. 

Thank about it: If you called out Sharon on that review, what do you think your future customers will think?

“Wow! This person is pretty confrontational.”

“Hmmm… If this is how this company responds to issues, I bet there is some truth to what Sharon is saying”.

“Oh boy! I think I am going to find someone more professional.”

When responding to a negative review from a demanding client, be sure to do three things: 

  • Thank them for taking the time to share (they like to be heard after all)
  • Let them know what you aim to achieve with your services, and that you want to make it right
  • Tell them you will contact them immediately to remedy the issue

Chances are that demanding Sharon won’t answer the phone, and she likely won’t change her review. But that’s ok, because it’s not about her. 

Negative Review from Someone with a Legitimate Issue

This type of review is by far the most difficult to stomach. I can’t think of a single small business owner that doesn’t want to ensure every client experience is the best we can provide. But life happens, and sometimes we miss the mark.

Our minds are programmed to want to explain the reasons why we failed, and often the first urge is to write out a response outlining those external factors:  my family member was ill, my equipment failed, etc.

No one wants to hear those reasons, because they are just excuses. Chances are, you failed to COMMUNICATE those reasons to your client at the time in which they occurred. Communication should be proactive not reactive. But that doesn’t matter now, as you have a review and you need to know how to respond.

You still need to adhere to the KISS method, as it will serve you best here especially when your brain is telling you to “explain, explain, explain”. You need to have a new mantra for this type of review  “I was wrong, and I am going to make it right”.

“Hey <Amy>, I first want to apologize for your negative client experience. We always strive to provide our clients with the best customer service and we failed you. I will immediately and personally message you to discuss a time we can speak over the phone, so I can resolve your <issue>.”

This is going to be one of the hardest responses to write, but when a new potential customer reads it, they will see a humble, hard-working business owner who is not only willing to admit their mistakes, but to work hard to remedy them.

Not only that, your client will appreciate that you owned up to it in public and providing you resolve the issue, may even be a return client or refer you to others. 

DO’S & DON’TS OF RESPONDING TO NEGATIVE REVIEWS

Let’s summarize the basics of responding to any review. Following these guidelines will ensure you always respond in the most positive and professional way.

DO

  • Use the KISS method. Keep every written interaction simple and to the point.
  • Thank them for taking the time to leave a review
  • Let them know what you aim to achieve with your services, and that you want to make it right
  • Tell them you will contact them immediately to discuss the issue and find a solution

DON’T

  • Use the word unfortunately. It is a very unfeeling word, and will immediately set a tone for next conversation
  • Do not wait to respond. Always send a quick message to let them know you will follow up shortly.
  • Do not get defensive. It’s easy to want to argue and defend ourselves, but it will only lead to more issues.

Ensuring you keep a cool head and a calm mind will allow you to see things from your clients perspective, and resolve the issues fairly and professionally

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April 18, 2020

Robyn MacNeill

Hi, I'm Robyn

and I have been a Coach for over 10 years, as well as successfully running my own Virtual Assistance business.

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