If you're reading this, chances are you've gotten a bad review or are just planning for the day it happens. Heck, it happened to us - seriously, check out our results on Google maps. Clear as day, one user just wouldn't recommend us. That's fine, people are certainly entitled to their opinions (even if that one appears to be a fake account). But what if it's a genuine, real person who has a legitimate gripe? Here are a few ways to deal with it. And, you need to deal with it. Every unanswered bad review is the equivalent of someone writing "this place sucks" on your business' front door and not doing anything about it.
However you respond, just make sure it reflects the rest of your brand or social voice. If you are Old Spice, it should be irreverent and probably mention something about a crazy Minotaur getting loose in the Old Spice factory and tainting that batch of body wash. If you're a boutique clothing shop, chances of you taking the same approach will be slim.
Kill With Kindness... To a Point
Not everyone's going to like you. The faster you realize that, the better. Even Apple, who every brand on Earth wants to be like, has millions of people out there that hate their products or services. Without question, your first response should be polite, sincere and apologetic. It should never be dismissive, argumentative or disrespectful. In many cases, a simple declaration of error and an apology will do enough to not only appease the reviewer, but also to put your best foot forward to a potential new customer looking for reviews.
Give Them Something, Anything
There's this old business school thing that I think someone just made up about it costing 5-6 times as much to get a new customer as it does to retain an existing one. Let's assume that's accurate and do a little equation. A person has a bad experience at your restaurant. If you were to apologize and offer them a free appetizer the next time they came in, the worst case is that you're out eight mozzarella sticks. A much worse scenario is that you lose that customer and have to try to win a new one with forty mozzarella sticks. That math may seem fuzzy and I'm not certain it's the best example, but I know two things: the first is that small gestures like this can go a long way and the second is that I kind of want some mozzarella sticks now, like forty of them.
Don't Feed the Trolls
Ah, this age-old internet clichÃ©. As I mentioned in the previous point, there are some people that cannot be appeased or choose not to and you can only kill with kindness to a point. For these people, you simply have to agree to disagree and drop it. They may get the last word in, but other users will see that you made a concerted effort to try to appease them, and sometimes that's the best you can do. Or, you can just ignore all of this advice and do what this guy did.
Tell us what you think. What are some ways you've dealt with bad reviews? Write some of your own tips in the comment section.