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Responding to Negative Reviews

Everyone is Going to Get a Negative Review It doesn’t matter what you do, there’s those people out there who live for negative reviews. You can see them on sites like Yelp. I love going to Yelp and finding profiles of someone who has 15 reviews and there’s like 14 of them that are 1 star and the others are 2 stars. Wow, this person is miserable and unfortunately they walked into your business.

So here is how you spin it. Below I’m going to show you how to take a negative review, from a negative person you take the energy, and use it to your advantage.

If you’re only going to remember one thing about this blog, remember this after this. Don’t use keywords in your responses! Do not use keywords in your responses! If you do, you risk having the review ranked for the keyword you used.

This is second party stuff. People know what you’re talking about, they just finished reading the negative review before the response.

Remember, this is a negative review system. I had to put together a formula because people were so emotional reading these things, we had to enlist a check list to the right function.

Write with your future customers in mind, not the former customer

You want to write with the person in mind who is going to be reading the reviews, not the person who originally wrote the negative review. The person who wrote the review might see if you’ve responded, they’re probably still pissed. It doesn’t matter that you’re writing to them. You are writing to the next people who are coming. So the tone of voice you’re using is a lot of second party, you’re using adverbs. For example, “We do this a lot”, “This can be done”.

1. Is the review true?

This process is not easy. It will require you to look in the mirror at your own actions. This can be difficult for some people.

This is the first question to ask yourself. When I sit down with a business owner and I say, “Okay, this guy says you killed his dog. Right here on the review, it says ‘Fluffy came in here just fine. Fluffy ended up dead.’ Is this true?” I have to look this guy in the eye and it’s always painful. And sometimes, yeah, Fluffy died because x, y, z and sometimes it’s not true at all. Maybe Fluffy was half dead when he came in. Use formulated responses.

2. If yes, what did you do to rectify the issue?

Alright, Fluffy died because we didn’t have a tech in there and in the future what we do is we have a forth tech. Since then we have a fourth tech. This is what happened, Fluffy died. We fixed the issue because we hired extra personnel to make sure this never happens agian. Do you kind of see how your responses begin to take shape here?

3. If no, does it sound like a competitor writing it?

(If industry lingo is involved, then it’s likely an insider.)

You can usually tell if it’s a competitor. If someone’s using industry lingo or buzz words that you talk about, hydro phosphates and mono sodium or whatever. I recommend politely calling them out. If they don’t respond people are going to believe you. People will be savvy enough to see that this is totally a competitor, they outed them here. They didn’t even respond. So that’s how you take a competitor’s negative review off the map. If it’s a competitor call him out. Don’t say, “Dude, please. I know this is you”. Say “I don’t remember this customer coming in. We’ve looked through our entire files and we are unable to locate this customer in our records. Can you please respond to this review so that we can make this right?” And see if they respond. If the person doesn’t respond, the review looks less legit. Look for the industry lingo to discover competitor reviews.

4. If this were to happen today, what would be done differently?

This is the next thing you’re asking yourself. This is the hard part. “Ahhh, if I killed a dog on the table, what would I do differently? Well, I’d jump off a bridge.” But you can’t write that in here.  Instead you could say, “This would not happen today because we hired a fourth vet tech to assist us in the procedures.”

Let’s review what your review would sound like in responding to a negative review. Here’s how I would respond to the dead dog situation (if it’s something you’re responsible for).

“Unfortunately, the dog didn’t make it on our table. The dog was brought in five minutes before closing and we had dismissed our staff. We were lacking staff during this emergency situation. In the future, we will hold two staff members over fifteen minutes everyday to ensure this never occurs again.”

We have now told future customers what we have done to rectify the situation. The customer is not happy because Fluffy died. But this won’t happen to anyone else. We’ve made changes.

People will see that we’ve fixed the problem. They made a mistake and we learned from our mistakes. That’s how you move forward. You are taking negative motion and using it to your benefit. Hopefully the negative review won’t get ranked, just remember it will likely only get ranked if you use keywords.

Ask a neutral person to read the review. You are likely to write it with emotion.

Using negative reviews to your advantage will change the tone from anger or disappointment to understanding in the reader’s mind. You are speaking to your current prospective customer. Make it count by gaining a customer.

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Steven Huskey – TalkNerdie2Me, is the founder and Vice President of Marketing at High 5 Promotions, an Austin-based Internet Marketing and SEO company.

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