5 Tips for Managing Negative Online Reviews

by | Apr 6, 2022 | Pet Business Marketing

The Complete Review Guide for Dog Facilities

Try as you might to provide 5-star service to every customer that walks through your doggie daycare facility, the sad truth is that the longer you remain in business, the more likely you are to receive a negative review. This doesn’t mean your business is terrible: It’s incredibly difficult to ensure 100% satisfaction in every customer interaction — especially when tasked with caring for someone’s furry family member. Even if your service and delivery is perfect, some protective pet owners may have differing opinions that can eventually find themselves published online for all to see.

At Signature W Studio, our team has experience coaching hundreds of business owners with a specialization in online reputation management for dog care facilities. To help dog boarding facilities better manage their online reputation, we’ve put together this complete guide for how to respond to negative customer reviews for a more positive overall outcome.

Why Respond to Negative Reviews?

Before responding to a negative review, it’s important to keep in mind the goal of the interaction. The primary goal of online reputation management is to come to a common ground and shared empathy. By achieving this, the hope is that the complainant will remove their negative review after coming to a better understanding with the business owner.

Even if the customer does not remove their comment, responding to their concerns illustrates to potential customers that even when approached with negativity, you are able to keep a level head and attempt to resolve the problem. Maintaining an active response to customer reviews shows future customers that you care about the quality of service you provide and that you are willing to work with others to make a poor experience right.

Our Top Tips for Responding to Negative Reviews

#1 – Don’t Take It Personally

It’s easy to feel attacked by a scathing online review, but it’s important to remember not to take it personally. In order to prepare the best response, you need to realize that you are not the one being criticized. Rather, the criticism is directed at a specific instance or interaction that happened with you or your business. Once you are able to keep this in perspective, responding to the comment becomes much easier and less emotionally charged.

#2 – Take the Conversation Offline

This isn’t to say that you should request to have the review removed by the platform. Attempting to have negative reviews removed from your online profiles is often a waste of time (unless, of course, the comment is provably false or abusive in nature). Instead, try to get the conversation moved offline by inviting the complainant to reach out to you directly via phone or email so you can attempt to resolve the problem.

By engaging in an online back-and-forth with an irate customer, you open up the potential for future customers to view the interaction as confrontational. Even if you aren’t able to get a hold of the complainant, making the effort to take a personalized approach will show other customers that you did your best to come to a resolution.

#3 – Always Respond to Reviews

The key to online reputation management is remaining responsive to all reviews. When you respond to a review, it shows others reading that you have a vested interest in resolving all complaints that come your way. Your dedication to resolving customer complaints shows you care about every client and the business as a whole.

#4 – Apologize and Never Attack

When crafting your response, it’s important to remain apologetic — even if you fundamentally disagree with the complaint. The best responses will always be:

  • Empathetic: Tell the customer you’re sorry, even if you believe you didn’t do anything wrong. Showing empathy for their experience and letting them know their complaint has been heard is the most important thing.
  • Problem-solving: Always aim to show a desire to resolve the issue. Doing so will show the complainant as well as future customers that you take negative experiences seriously and are dedicated to solving problems.
  • Personalized: Make every effort to take the conversation offline by offering a personalized follow-up options. Not only does this have a stronger chance at resolution, but it shows other readers that you are dedicated to delivering a quality experience.

A great example response could be something like, “[Customer Name], I am so sorry this happened! We strive to make every day at [Doggy Daycare Facility] a memorable one. This includes parents as well as dogs. We would love to get a better understanding of what happened and work to resolve this. Here is my personal cell and email — please reach out when you can!”

#5 – Strive for Mutual Understanding

Often times, customers just want to be heard. Sometimes issues can’t be resolved, but an understanding that you listened to the reviewer’s issues and are willing to work toward a resolution is all that’s needed to diffuse the tension. When moving towards mutual understanding, always:

  • Let the person know what you are going to do moving forward so this doesn’t happen in the future
  • Invite the customer back with a potential discount
  • Offer more training to your staff or a potential change to process

After responding, ask the customer at the end of the conversation if your resolution was helpful. If your angry client feels like you have resolved their issue, you can always politely ask them to take down the review. In some cases, it may be helpful to mention to them that unlike this singular bad experience, thousands of other happy clients and their furry friends enjoy your business and the way you treat them, and you wouldn’t want this negative review to taint that.

Bonus Tip: Respond to Positive Reviews!

While responding to negative reviews is important, what will really wow prospective clients is responding to 4- and 5-star reviews. Taking the time to acknowledge and thank customers for leaving a positive review shows that you care about all feedback you receive. Consider also answering 3- and 4-star reviewers with the question, “What could we have done to make your time with us a 5-star experience?” This will show that you truly care about making a difference, even when no complaint has been made.

Responding to negative feedback can be difficult, but we hope these tips will help you in the future if you have an unhappy customer. Just remember — a negative review isn’t a reflection of your business in its entirety. By putting your best foot forward and showing others you care, you’ll be on the road to better online reputation management in no time!

Bill Reinhart

Bill has been an active marketer for over 15 years with experience leading teams in web development, SEO, and lead generation. Bill founded Signature W Studio in 2018 in Charlotte, NC. Bill's goal with Signature W Studio is to create lasting partnerships with his clients.

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