How to respond to negative reviews

How you deal with a complaint online can have a significant impact on the outcome of the situation. From time to time, it’s natural that you won’t make every customer happy which could lead to them writing a negative review online. When this happens, it’s important to remain calm and assess the situation carefully.

Customers typically contact brands publicly because they’re angry and they think they’ll get a better, faster response than they would if they went through standard customer service channels. This means you need to take extra care over your responses because anything you post on social media or on a review site will impact your brand reputation.

When you’re replying to a negative review, you should:

  • Use a friendly and informal tone while remaining professional. Remember that you’re speaking to a person and that their complaint might be a sensitive issue
  • Use simple words and write in plain English – avoid using long, complicated words when you can use short ones
  • Avoid jargon – if you have to use jargon, then explain the term. For example, instead of talking about ‘moderation’, you might talk about ‘the safety measures the team use’

When you respond, it’s important to make sure you really understand the customer’s issue. You should address every point they make in your response and go into detail to help them understand why or how something might have happened. Try to be sensitive to how the customer might be feeling and their emotional responses.

Next, you need to explain what you’re going to do to resolve the situation. Take your time to reassure them and try to turn any negatives into a positive. If you’re explaining something technical, break up big chunks of text to make it easier to read and understand.

It’s not an easy task to be personal, authoritative, calm, friendly and helpful all at once, but you can strike the right balance by re-reading and editing your answer before you post it. This will help you check that your tone is right and that you’ve addressed every question the customer has asked.

To help your structure your answer, you might find it useful to follow this format:

Acknowledge: acknowledge the question and answer everything the customer asked
Transition: provide reassurance
Message: explain what you’re going to do about their problem

By being responsive, calm and helpful, you should be able to resolve the negative query and leave the customer with positive feelings about your brand.

If you need any help writing responses to a negative review, our PR and marketing team are always happy to help. Get in touch with the Partner team to contact them.

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