Ask a Kukui'an: How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Online reviews are one of the major lead sources for small business owners. As the modern form of word-of-mouth, reviews are powerful for businesses. A positive review can do wonders for a brand new business. A negative review could seriously hurt, or worse, shut doors.

In today’s Ask a Kukui’an, we have Jessica May, our esteemed Client Marketing Specialist. Jessica works closely with clients in need of reputation management. As one of the veteran marketers at Kukui, Jessica has seen the best and worst of most online review sources.

Whether your primary review source is Yelp, MindBody, or even Google My Business, Jessica is your girl!

Q1. What is your first response when you see a negative review on your client’s website? How do you recommend they handle it?

I always remind my clients to take a deep breath and not take the negative review personally.

No matter how established and great a business is, negative reviews are inevitable. You're always going to get that bad seed or someone who simply had a bad day. That’s totally normal and everyone will be okay.

After your deep breathing, respond calmly and promptly. Make sure you respond to the review publicly within two hours. This makes unhappy customers feel heard, respected, and know that the issue is being handled. You want the customer to feel like they are a priority.

Some business owners are hesitant to do this because they don’t want to give this much merit to complainers. Know that customers are happy to be acknowledged that they almost always change their one star review to a five star review.

Q2. Recently, we’ve seen a surge in small business owners experiencing mean or baseless reviews. How do you recommend handling that?

I highly recommend that you respond to all reviews in attempt to recover the relationship with the customer, whether it is real or not. Be the bigger person, even in your online reviews.

It is important to remain calm and avoid being defensive. Instead, thank them for their patronage and remind them that as a business owner you are constantly striving to improve in any way possible and understanding what went wrong can help you do that.

Try your best to resolve the problem by analyzing the issue. Ask as many questions as possible and you may even want to offer the customer a discount on their next visit. If you don't want to give them a discount a simple apology and offer to make things right will suffice. 

Q3. Everyone gets a fake review on Yelp. What's your take on that?

This is common. I've seen this happen plenty of times. Yelpers are by no means allowed to post a review if they have never had a real experience with the business. I highly recommend reporting it right away if this ever happens to you. 

There are many ways your marketing director and Yelp can assist in proving that the review isn't useful or reliable especially if it is completely fabricated.

Q4. What do you tell clients who want to receive more positive feedback from online review sources like Yelp?

A little trick I tell my clients to help them get more positive feedback on Yelp is to remind their customers to fill out their Yelp profiles (add profile picture, add a short bio, add friends).

Unfortunately, Yelp sometimes filters positive reviews even if they are legitimate because the user does not have enough creditability, is inactive or has an incomplete profile. This is the best way to keep your positive reviews out of the filter.

Another way is to get more good reviews is to turn to friends and family. It's okay to do this! Friends and family members are you biggest fans. Don't forget that this is an option.

Lastly, provide great customer service. I truly believe that great customer service and business who care about their customers will see this reflection online over time.

Q5. What is your favorite tool to track and respond to reviews?

Our All-In-One Success Platform has a great feature for reviews. Having a tool that simplifies this process is greatly helpful to me as a marketer and even more helpful to my clients.

I know that there are many review tools online, it’s just the matter of finding the right tool for your needs. I always say do some research before signing up for any service. 


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