The last time you tried a new restaurant, I’m guessing you Googled it, checked the reviews, and then made your decision. You may have even scrolled through your hair stylist’s Instagram page before you booked an appointment with them. I, as a person who understands why I’m being targeted with Instagram ads, what demographics they likely have set up, and what they’re trying to convince me, have caved and ordered products more than once.

Today, what we find online influences our buying decisions more than ever. It also means that customers are more vocal than ever. They have a platform to voice how they feel about businesses, and sometimes that means negative feedback. Companies need to maintain a good brand reputation to stay competitive.

Here’s the thing. You will never please everybody. Negative reviews and comments happen. The best you can do is try to resolve the issue, vow to do better and move on.

Look at it this way: bad reviews are good for business. It’s free feedback. It points out where you need to improve your product or service, and it gives you an opportunity to show how professional, caring and responsive your business is.

The golden rule? ALWAYS respond. No matter what. 51.7% of consumers expect businesses to respond to their negative review within seven days. And really, it’s just the right thing to do.

The fact that you are responding means that you are taking back your narrative.

Google Reviews

Research has shown that 95% of consumers consult reviews before choosing to buy from a business. For most, Google Reviews are the go-to. All businesses strive for great Google reviews. Why wouldn’t they? But what happens when you receive a negative review?

Don’t worry. Take a deep breath. The world is not ending.

The best way to deal with a negative Google review is to respond respectfully. Ignoring the comments let’s disgruntled reviewers have the last word. But when you respond, you can take the narrative into your own hands.

When I judge a business based on reviews, I’m not only judging by what customers are saying, but how the business is responding to those customers.

When I see a business ignore a review, it makes it look like they don’t care about their customers. (As someone who works with business owners all the time though, I usually assume it’s because many feel like it’s awkward and don’t know what to say) Never do this. No matter what, respond. This is your opportunity to make things right, and show that even if something does go wrong, you’re there to make it right. Life happens. It’s how we deal with issues that really matters.

What’s even worse than not responding though, is when a business responds with an equally negative answer. Blaming, acting defensive, acting angry – all horrible ways to respond to a complaint. I likely will not frequent this business.

Can I get my negative review deleted? It’s a question I’ve seen a lot. The answer is, for the most part, no. Not unless the review goes against Google’s terms.There are special cases where Google will remove a review for you, such as if it is proven as spam, fake content, multiples from the same person, fraudulent reviews from competitors, etc. If you feel that a bad Google review falls into one of these categories, you can dispute it.

Social Media Comments

In a time where we find the brands we love on social media, the way we interact with our customers on social is more important than ever. ALWAYS respond to comments on your posts!

And if for some reason something goes wrong, and there is a negative comment on your post, avoid canned responses. There are so many times I’ve seen comments that could have been handled so much better!

Here are two examples of companies responding to an Instagram comment about a customer’s package not being delivered:

Please send us an email at ___ for assistance.

Vs.

Oh no! That doesn’t sound right. Can you please send us a message at __ so that we can get that sorted out for you?

Do you see the difference?

If you were stressed out about a missing delivery, which answer would make you feel more at ease? Probably the second one. The first response sounds like it was spewed out by a robot. You might as well call and be put on hold and then spend five minutes yelling “HUMAN BEING” into the pre-recording. (Is anyone else traumatized from calling the internet company?) See, the first message doesn’t make us feel that the people running the company actually care. The second response however, sounds more down to earth. The second response shows empathy. It’s as if you were talking to a real person. I feel like I can trust that this person is genuinely trying to help me out.

So if you’ve had a negative review, remember that you aren’t alone, it happens and it won’t destroy your business. It’s an opportunity to grow and show your customers that you care! The way you respond to issues will help you manage your brand reputation and continue to build trust with your audience.