How to Handle Negative Reviews?
Step 1Determine authenticity of reviewStep 2Resolve matter privately OR post public response
Customer verified >>> Contact customer privately and resolve the matterUnable to verify customer >>> Post a public response as a company representative (see examples below)
Step 3If appropriate, ask the customer to update the public review
Determining authenticity of the review
As soon as you discover a negative review posted publicly, determine whether the review was posted by a real customer. Real customers generally give details of their experience, even if they don’t use their real name, and you can determine who that customer was. If this is the case, IMMEDIATELY call the customer to discuss the negative experience, and be prepared to offer a partial/full refund and take any measures to correct any errors in the service. If you successfully satisfy the customer, you can request that he/she removes the review, or inserts an additional comment describing the resolution and your helpful response to the case.
If you cannot determine the identity of the customer, but are convinced that it is a customer (not competitor) nonetheless, respond to the review on the site, apologizing and offering to solve the issue, and request that the customer call you to discuss the experience. Do not try to justify the user’s complaint on the site, but maintain an apologetic and sincere tone and offer a resolution.
If the reviewer is obviously not a customer, but a competitor attempting to smear your reputation, respond to the review on the site, assuring users that you take all complaints seriously, but despite attempts haven’t been able to verify the identity of the customer to resolve the issue.
Responding PRIVATELY to a negative review
As soon as you discover the negative review, discuss the issue with the employees involved in the service call to fully understand their side of the story. In most cases, the technician's side of the story differs significantly from the customer's, and the truth tends to be somewhere in the middle.
1. Contact the customer by phone as soon as possible:
- Do not be on the defensive
- Ask the customer to explain the issue in as much detail as possible and listen to the customer patiently
- Ask the customer what you can do to remedy the situation
- Offer an appropriate refund, or offer to pay for the cost of a competitor's fix
If you cannot find the customer's contact information in your database, you have the option to contact him/her privately through certain review sites. Yelp has an option to send private messages to users, and you should always reach out to the customer privately before publishing a company response. You can download sample private Yelp message on the bottom of this page.
2. Send an apology letter:
Even though you resolved the issue with the customer over the phone, it is a good idea to send an apology letter in the mail. This will further convince the customer that you take complaints seriously and are willing to do everything in your power to win back the customer's trust. You can download sample apology letters on the bottom of this page.
Responding PUBLICLY to a negative review
If possible, resolve the issue with the dissatisfied customer one-on-one, and request that he or she removes or adds to the original review explaining the resolution.
If you cannot find the identity of the customer or suspect that a competitor posted the review, post a response similar to the examples provided below as the company representative. Different review sites have different processes for company comments. If possible, claim the business and respond as the company owner; if commenting as the company owner is not an option provided, create a user naming it [mycompany] and post a comment logged in as that user.
Do not try to justify the user’s complaint on the site, but maintain an apologetic and sincere tone and offer a resolution, even if you suspect that a competitor posted the review. Attempting to deny the reviewer’s experience only aggravates customers further, and makes your company appear arrogant and argumentative. As a rule, keep your response concise and provide a real name and contact information in your comment.
Here are sample some sample responses:
“Dear [username/real name posted on review]. My name is [your name], and I’m the customer service manager at [your company]. We are sorry to hear about your bad experience with us. We take each customer complaint seriously, and make every possible effort to remedy the situation and offer a refund for the unsatisfactory work. Based on the information you provided, we could not identify your contract number in our system in order to personally contact you. Please contact us directly at [firstname.lastname@example.org] to discuss the issue in more detail so that we can get a better understanding of the situation and take appropriate steps to improve our company. –Your Name, Customer Care, Your Company”“Dear [username/real name posted on review]. Thank you for the feedback. We are sincerely concerned about the unacceptable experience you had with our company, as we are committed to making every single customer satisfied with our service. Unfortunately, the details you provided didn’t allow us to find your contract in our system, and we were unable to contact you to discuss the matter further and offer a refund. Please contact us directly at [email@example.com] so that we can get a better understanding of the situation and take appropriate steps to improve our company. –Your Name, Customer Care, Your Company”“Dear [username/real name posted on review]. We apologize for the negative experience you had with our company. While we strive to make each and every customer 100% satisfied, we understand that in your case we fell short of our goal, and would like to offer you a refund to remedy the situation. However, based on the information you provided here, we could not identify your contract in our system. Please contact us directly at [firstname.lastname@example.org] to discuss the issue in more detail so that we can get more insight into the matter and improve our company. Thank you for the feedback. –Your Name, Customer Care, Your Company”
Negative Reviews - Real Life Examples
Negative Review by Competitor
“Last summer I called 1-800-ANYTYME. It was scorching hot and one of my AC units wasn't producing cool air. I stupidly called ANYTYME and they told me the unit was broken and a part was needed that was very expensive $500. I'll never forgive myself for caving in and allowing them to do it but I did. It took them literally 5 minutes to install the part. I later checked online and I could have bought it for $25.00!Maybe this lesson was worth $500? Always get a second quote and never call ANYTYME anytime!”
Public Company Response
"Dear Yelpers,Last week we attempted to contact Tom through Yelp to resolve his complaint. Once we're able to authenticate Tom we will take necessary actions to resolve the issue."Hi Tom, Thank you for taking the time to let us know your feelings about your experience with our company. I appreciate your honesty and value all of our customers' feedback. I would appreciate it if you could contact us directly with more specific information. In many cases we have gone above and beyond and even paid for the service call from a competitors bill. Your business means a lot..."Regards,Tony M.
Negative Review by Unsatisfied Customer
A customer posted the following one-star review on Yelp describing her negative experience:
“Well, we used Anytyme based on Yelp reviews. The story starts out good but ends sour. We bought a new house and wanted new thermostats, so we hooked up new thermostats and evidently did it incorrectly. So we called Anytyme to come find out what the problem was with the heat not coming on. They sent out Nate … Turns out Nate somehow tricked the heat into coming on and it really never would have worked from the thermostat control…”
The service manager contacted the customer privately and resolved the matter. The customer then raised her star rating to four star and added an update to her review commending the company for remedying the situation:“Javier took total responsibility for what had happened and mentioned several times "Anytyme employees do not treat their customers that way." He also mentioned they take their reviews very seriously and want to have a great reputation … I have increased my rating to a 4 star based on the final outcome and will consider giving Anytyme another chance due to my interaction with Javier. If it's better, I will increase my rating to the max when that happens.”