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How To Handle Negative Online Reviews

How To Handle Negative Online Reviews


When a person is researching car dealerships, body shops, or any service provider, they will almost always read reviews to see what other people’s experiences were. This is a good way for consumers to see first-hand every area that a business exceeded expectations or when they failed miserably. Customer service, waiting time, the service department, estimates, and much more are factors in how negative or positive a review will be. Marketing director of ReputationManagement.com, Jonas Sickler, states that “four negative search results can cost a shop 70% of its potential business.” This is especially so in the collision repair industry because of the high cost of repairs and just how much vehicles are an essential part of our daily lives. 

So, how can service businesses tackle negative reviews and turn them into a positive learning experience? The following are some do’s and don’ts for responding to negative online reviews:

Don’t get defensive: When someone leaves nasty, unfiltered remarks over experience at your business, it’s easy to get angry…especially when you feel like their complaint doesn’t justify a negative review. Take a moment to collect your thoughts before you respond and don’t try to justify the actions, even if you’re 100% in the right.

Do respond right away: If a review isn’t acknowledged right away, it’ll look like your business is not taking responsibility and/or they don’t care about their customers once they walk out the doors. Apologize for any inconvenience they may have experienced and communicate that you’re going to fix the problem right away. Perhaps include what the core values of your company are. Forbes states that “humility and humanity are key” to responding to negative online reviews.

Don’t just respond to the review online: Public responses are great, but go the extra mile to contact the reviewer privately. This can be through an email, direct message, or a phone call. A private response is more personal and shows you genuinely care about your customers.

Do share the negative review with your team: A business that only focuses on the positive things that happen in the workplace (including great reviews) will never be able to solve any problem, no matter how big or small. Nothing ever goes as planned and it’s crucial your team can learn from the experience. Discuss what went wrong and how it could have been handled differently so that the customer wouldn’t have walked away with a negative feeling towards your business.

Do keep the review response short and sweet: Plain and simple, an extended response will automatically appear that you’re justifying the actions. Although your answer is directed to the person who wrote the review, you’re also showing potential new customers how you respond to negative reviews. 

There’s always room for improvement, no matter how big or small your business may be. Customers want to trust that they’re getting the best possible service out there and that if a mistake happens, the business is able to fix it right away. How you respond to customer reviews is a very public part of your customer service experience. In the words of Tim McGraw, “always be humble and kind.” 

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Alix Maria Taulbee Alix Maria Taulbee is a writer, producer, actress, and content creator of articles and blog posts related to business improvement and industry trends. She works at Stratosphere Studio.