How to Respond to Negative Customer Reviews Online
Updated: Jun 4, 2019
As Social Media grows, it seems as if the places a Wedding Professional can find a negative review grows along with it. Poor reviews are an unfortunate but very real part of doing business in a digital world. Even worse? Anyone can leave a review--even people who have not used your services. Eek!
Yelp, Facebook, The Knot and Google are just a few places wedding vendors are subject to receiving reviews. Monitoring reviews on all applicable sites belongs on the desk of your Digital and Social Media Manager (or anyone, just as long as it is being monitored). It is important to be kept informed regarding what is being said about your company online.
Sites to Stay on Top of For Potential Reviews as a Wedding Professional:
Yelp (especially for venues that are also restaurants!)
Local Facebook Groups
Local Wedding Sites & Forums
A negative review can make you feel attacked, hurt and violated. However, leaving a negative response can make the situation grow. Lashing out to a negative review is like the movie Gremlins--if you get a Mogwai wet, it multiplies. If you respond aggressively to a negative review, the commenter rarely goes away. But business owners should have rights when it comes to negative reviews.
Here are the first steps I take when addressing a negative review:
1. Breath! Process what is being said, and let it simmer. A negative review can feel like a dagger, which means the immediate reaction is to fight for your life. Hold off, count to ten and don't panic yet!
2. Does it require a response?
Haters exist, and negative comments happen. If there is no valuable feedback and just a generic hateful comment, like "I did not this venue" I ignore it. It does not offer anything to go off on--I don't know when they visited, what they ate, and there is no validity to their experience or review. Why give it anymore attention by addressing it further?
3. If it does require a response, my first plan of action is to move the conversation OFF social media. Let's say you received a review for a wedding venue, which said "I attended a Bridal Shower here, and the Chicken Parmigiana was cold. The manager was not helpful and the server was rude." This is absolutely something I would want to address, as it gives the specific type of event, and an experience while there. Here is what a typical general response would be:
"Thank you for making us aware of your experience. We pride ourselves upon our customer service and are disappointed to hear that you did not receive that on your last visit. Can you please contact me at ::insert e-mail address/contact method:: with your contact information so that I may have management reach out to you regarding your experience."
Why do I like this response? It acknowledges the customer's disappointment, but does not admit fault. It makes the customer aware that you hear them and want to make the situation right, by addressing it with management. But most importantly, it does not initiate discussing the conversation publicly.
4. Notify management/owners. If you are not the owner, then the next thing I would do is make management aware. If you are the person who will be contacting the reviewer, great!
Some reviewers respond right away, where others never do. The good news is, now anyone who sees that review will see that it has been acknowledged. Instead of leaving the reader with a concern over the negative review, they now can have a bit more relief that any legitimate negative reviews get addressed and taken care of.
When responding to a negative review, remember:
Be cautious! Some people are out for drama, and will only blast you more if they don't like your response. That is why I recommend the vague, general response above.
Be courteous! Even if the reviewer is rude, crude and lying, you will get more respect from potential customers if they see you respond with compassion and kindness.
Don't get defensive! If you are going to get defensive, take it off social media! Personal experience? If I see a prospective vendor lash out at a bride on Social Media, I avoid referring them. I don't want to refer a Bride or Groom to a vendor who won't be able to conduct themselves properly if a situation goes awry.
In this post we discussed how to handle and address a negative review, with a template response. I hope this will help you in handling potential negative comments--but it is my hope for you that it will never happen! Right?!
xO - I Do Wedding Marketing