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How to Handle Bad Reviews

October 19, 2018

How to handle bad reviews@4x
5 min

StoragePug is a modern marketing company for self storage. We create intelligent marketing websites that allow you to rent units & take payments through your facility’s website.

At some point, most businesses get negative reviews, and your self storage facility will get a few as well. It is merely the nature of online reviews, but fear not! Bad reviews aren’t the end of the world. In fact, a few bad reviews can be helpful. 

Research has shown that consumers are skeptical when businesses have nothing but 5-star reviews. 

A few bad and average reviews in the mix can add credibility to the authenticity of all the reviews. Of course, you’ll want a majority of positive reviews over negative ones, but realize that the presence of a few negative reviews isn’t necessarily damaging in and of itself. 

The key to mitigating the effects of a bad review lies in how you respond to it. Research shows that engaging positively with dissatisfied customers can lead to repeat business—almost 70% of unhappy customers will give a company another chance after receiving a helpful response to a bad online review.

So how do you do turn a negative review into a positive? Follow these eight steps:

Step 1: Don’t respond in the heat of the moment 

It can be upsetting to read a bad review. It is natural to feel angry and want to defend your business.

Negative reviews are inevitable for any business.

However, these feelings cannot affect your response. For this reason, experts recommend having some boilerplate responses prepared that you can use as a template rather than dashing off an emotional response in the heat of the moment.

Don’t merely respond to all bad reviews with a canned response; you need to personalize it first, which leads us to the next step.

Step 2: Consider what type of reviewer wrote the review

This article by BrightLocal provides detailed information on the different types of online reviewers and how to best respond to them.

You’ll see first time reviewers (react thoughtfully as strong emotion probably encouraged them to write a review), serial complainers (don’t engage or expect a positive outcome), direct communicators (respond in a similar tone), storytellers (get your facts and details right), sharpshooters (craft a concise response), and fakers (requires special handling).

Finally, no matter which type of reviewer wrote a bad review, all responses need two things—politeness and empathy, which brings us to Step 3.

Step 3: Respond politely and make sure the reviewer knows you heard them

Although you may be upset by what was said, keep your communication professional and polite. Make sure the customer knows you listened to their complaint without making excuses for what happened. In other words, empathize—don’t explain.

Often, reviewers want to see that their opinion makes a difference. By acknowledging their complaint (but not making excuses for it), you’ve given them what they needed most. Of course, you need to go one step further. 

Step 4: Offer a solution

The solution can be whatever is suited to the specific situation—an apology, discount, refund, or policy change. The goal is to defuse the situation and win back the customer’s business.

You don’t need to get into specific details in your response (unless appropriate), but you do need to offer to make amends. Not only is it important for repairing the relationship with the reviewer who had the unfortunate experience, but it is also critical for others who will read the bad review and your response to it.

Offering to make amends shows anyone reading the review that you care about your customers and want them to have a positive experience. At the same time, you don't need to share the specifics of exactly how you’ll fix the problem in a public forum, which brings us to the next step. 

Step 5: Take the conversation offline

As quickly as possible, attempt to move the discussion offline. You don’t want to go back and forth with an unhappy customer in a public forum.

Instead, your response should be something like, “I’m sorry to hear that you were not happy with [our service/policy/bill]. I would like to discuss this issue with you in more detail to find a solution that meets your needs. Please call me at xxx-xxx-xxxx or email directly at your@emailaddress.com at your earliest convenience.” 

Step 6: Have an impartial third party review your response

Now that you’ve crafted a polite, empathetic, and personalized response and offered a solution, you need to do one more thing: have an impartial person review your answer. It will help ensure that your tone is appropriate, you’ve hit all the right notes, and you didn’t inadvertently say something that might inflame the situation.

When dealing with something highly charged and emotional like a bad review, getting another opinion on your response is always a good idea.

Despite your best efforts, emotion or defensiveness may have crept into your reply. Another person might pick up on this and help you fix it. 

Step 7: After you resolve the situation, ask the reviewer to consider modifying or updating the review

Once you’ve posted your response, and assuming you’ve been able to make amends to the customer or resolve their issues, politely ask the reviewer if they’ll consider updating or changing their review to reflect these experiences.

If you’ve done the work to win back their business, they’ll be much more inclined to update their review to reflect this. 

Step 8: Learn from the review 

The final step is to consider what was said in the review and use it as an opportunity to improve your self storage business.

Once you get past the emotion, reread the review. Bad reviews can be excellent learning opportunities because they highlight potential problem areas that you should perhaps address.

Don’t allow emotion to cause you to miss the truth of what a bad review might be saying—it could be invaluable information! 

By engaging politely and positively with negative reviews, you’ll demonstrate to the reviewer and other customers that you take reviews seriously and are seeking to make improvements. It will help mitigate the effects of the negative review for everyone who reads it.

Finally, remember that you should be monitoring and responding to all customer reviews—not just the bad ones. It is just as important to thank customers for leaving positive reviews as it is to respond appropriately to negative ones.

Responding to online reviews shows that your business cares about its customers and reputation. 

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