How do you respond to negative Facebook reviews, business owner? One of the best parts about social media is the ability to get feedback from your customers. On the flip side, you need to be more vigilant with your online customer service and work on your comment etiquette since reviews on Facebook cannot be deleted or hidden. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that most customers don’t actually pay attention to negative Facebook reviews. Many customers decide whether they will choose your business based on your social media—including your review ratings.
In this blog post, we go over how to respond to reviews in a way that:
- makes you look professional and kind,
- isn’t overly apologetic,
- helps you prevent little issues turning into big arguments,
- and is guided by a system that will make the whole process easy and organized.
Before we get into the steps of responding to negative reviews, we need to go over a few things you need to consider first.
Do you have a system in place?
Do you find yourself not knowing what to say to certain reviews? Do you dread responding to reviews or comments on social media because it takes you way too long to come up with the appropriate response? You need to create a system!
The Pipeline team has generated a response and course of action for almost any kind of review. For example, here’s a snippet of our responses for Facebook reviews that are 3 stars or less.
- Response Option 1: “Thank you for taking the time to review our hotel. We would appreciate the opportunity to discuss any improvements we can make to earn 5 stars from you. Please send us a private message with your contact information. We appreciate your business and, with your help, we look forward to improving overall experience.”
- Response Option 2: “Thank you for taking the time to leave us a review and voice your concerns. We strive to provide our guests with superior service. It is unfortunate that you did not experience us at our finest. Please send us a private message with your contact information, so we can speak to you further about this.”
- Response Option 3: “We want to apologize for your recent experience with us. Please send us a private message with more details about your interaction. We would appreciate the opportunity to discuss your experience and learn how we could earn 5 stars from you. Thank you.”
Do you notice a trend of asking the guest to send a private message? We’ll discuss this more later.
These responses give us a template to work from. We tweak them based on the details of the review in question in order to address certain issues and make the response personable. We also remember to keep certain guiding questions before responding. This helps us respond better. For example:
- Is the customer still at the business?
- Has the customer already spoken to management about the issue?
- Did the customer speak about being charged a fee that was ill-deserved?
- Did something outrageous happen that warrants looking into the situation before responding?
- Does it involve criminal activity?
- Is the review discriminatory?
Create your own system for responding to negative reviews that works for your business. Once you do this, you’ll never have to worry about racking your brain for the perfect response every time. In review, your system should include:
- A list of response options & actions.
- A list of situations to consider before responding.
- A list of “If this happens, then I will ____” for very specific problems. Being preemptive is the key!
Now that you have a system in place, there is one more thing you need to be able to discern before confidently responding to a review—
“Does this review require immediate action?”
This is a helpful question to keep your perspective in check when responding to reviews. It will keep you from becoming overwhelmed if you have multiple negative reviews to respond to. This does not mean you can blow off reviews if they don’t seem that important. It is simply a guiding question to help you decide on the seriousness of a review and which reviews need the most attention. You want to be responsive, not reactive to every review that comes your way.
Now you are ready for the steps! It should be simple since you already know how you will respond to any kind of review and have created guiding questions to fill the gaps.
Step 1: Consult your generated responses list and respond to the review.
-Ideally, you want to get the conversation out of the reviews and into a private message where you can discuss the issues in a more controlled way. The last thing you want is a back-and-forth argument that future customer can see.
Even if both parties are being polite, going back and forth can look unprofessional and could open you up to more issues or misunderstandings.
Step 2: Watch out for a response. If you get a direct message, respond to it accordingly. You may receive more details about the issue or you may just get a phone number. Respond in a kind and understanding way, apologizing again if necessary, and reach out to the customer ASAP by phone if possible.
Step 3: If you get a negative response in the review comment thread, remember that comments cannot be deleted or hidden on reviews. Here are a few options you can move forward with:
- If the comment is more complaints, respond in a kind way and prompt them again to leave a private message so you can get in touch with them.
- If they respond in an argumentative way, still prompt them in an understanding way to continue the conversation in a private message. The main idea is to get the argument out of the open.
- If they respond or continue to respond in a discriminatory, rude, or harassing way—you may need to take steps to ban the person from your page. Especially if you have done all you can to rectify the situation. The banned user’s review will stay on the page, but they will not be able to leave any more comments or take any action on your page. We’ll talk more on this later.
Step 4: Do not forget to reach out to the guest promptly or get their information. If it is taking a while for you to figure out a situation, keep the person updated so they know you are working on it. A simple reassurance will work- “Give us some time to look into your situation,” or “We have spoken to the manager about what happened and he will be in contact with you later today.”
Some other tips:
- Check reviews frequently. It’s far better to get ahead of future problems or issues that can be easily solved without growing into huge problems. Sometimes, other friends will riff off of a guest’s review with more negative comments.
- Keep track of recurring issues within guest reviews. This could give you some insight on problems with your business that you may be blind to.
- Adjust your perspective. Bad reviews aren’t all bad! They give you a chance to get feedback and be better.
- Think above! Most people are just trying to have the best experience that they can. And most people say negative things flippantly without thinking twice. Being respectful, responsive, and kind will diffuse a multitude of issues. Don’t take every review as a personal attack!
- The customer is not always right. You are allowed to defend your business! If someone is saying something that is untrue about your business, you do not have to be overly apologetic. You should still respond kindly, but feel free to correct wrong thinking. You don’t want other guests to see inaccurate information about your business and run with it.
- Correct inaccurate information. If you find yourself being overly apologetic, try offering advice instead of an apology. Unless the issue warrants an apology!
- Ban if necessary. If you sadly had to ban someone from your Facebook page, be sure to write a response in the review comment thread offering an explanation. Maybe you need to speak about a policy that the customer violated. Maybe you need to express that the customer’s review does not reflect the views of your business. This way, when viewers are reading your business’ reviews, they can see that you are transparent. Plus it gives you another way to defend yourself when a review is not fair.
We know this is a lot of information! Start with deciding how you will respond to any kind of review and go from there. Again, the main things to remember are to respond promptly, respond kindly, and get the conversation offline as quickly as possible.
We hope this information makes the task of responding to negative reviews less daunting! Having a plan in place can truly make the process much less scary and will keep you organized. If this blog post helped you, read another one of our blog posts. “Is Facebook a Choice or Requirement for Local Businesses?” has more tips for your business’ social media. Thanks for reading!
Pipeline Social Media is a digital marketing agency that offers three approaches to help you increase your social media presence: we can fully manage your social media accounts, we can teach your team how to do it in-house, or we can monitor/coach your team along the way and report back to you. Ask us about our Google AdWords management, web design, and SEO website packages.
Social Media Community Manager
Pipeline Social Media