Bad Yelp reviews happen to everyone. So what can you do about it? How do you get someone to delete their negative review of your company? These and more are all questions we’ll be answering today. In addition to that, we’ve got a free downloadable answer template ready for you to use at the end of this article.
1. I will never get a negative review. Why should I learn how to answer them?
Your plumbing business is amazing. Your HVAC technicians are the best around. Your fire and security office personnel is as organized as possible. You’re doing well, we get it, but thinking that’s enough to ensure you’re never going to get a bad Yelp review displays a certain innocence about the modern customer.
The reality is more that you can only do so much to offer a great customer experience, but, at the end of the day, it’s still the customer’s choice whether they decide it was positive or negative. Sometimes, you might feel like it’s an unfair assessment.
It took more than 30 seconds for your admin to answer the call?
Traffic jam caused your technician to be late?
Just a bad mood?
These are all conditions outside of your control, yet they can all lead to a negative review even if there was nothing you could have reasonably done to deliver a better service. This is why it’s so important to answer negative reviews: it gives you a chance to tell your side of the story.
At the same time, there’s definitely a good way to tell it and a bad way. A good answer to a negative review will do its best to repair the relationship, regardless of what made it break down, and instil trust in any potential lead reading it later on.
A bad answer, on the other hand, will not only eliminate any change of this unhappy customer changing their mind, but it will also discourage future customers from hiring you, even if, all in all, you did nothing wrong.
2. Why negative reviews are good for your service business.
Nobody’s perfect which means that when customers see a perfect 100% score or 5/5 on every review, alarm bells will start ringing. Nowadays, it’s easy for companies of any kind to purchase reviews so customers are a lot more discerning when it comes to judging scores and ratings.
This is why having one or two negative reviews can actually work out in your advantage. More so if you reply to them with a great answer that both validates the customer’s opinion and provides context as to why your service wasn’t up to their expectations.
Any lead reading through will be able to tell that you’re a responsible business owner that acknowledges any mistakes and strives to implement quality feedback.
3. How to craft a great answer for a bad Yelp review.
So how do you formulate a good reply to a negative review? First, there are two major scenarios: one when the customer is wrong, and another when the customer is right.
Scenario A: How to answer a negative review when the customer is wrong and/or unfair.
These situations happen quite often, in various shapes and forms. The example above shows a customer who clearly didn’t understand how plumbing services and payments work so his expectations were unreasonable. How do you deal with that?
Step 1: Don’t get angry.
This is the easiest thing to do when someone makes an unfair statement in public about your business and employees. It’s normal: that’s your life’s work so taking it personal can feel quite natural.
Getting angry and typing out an aggressive reply might feel like a release for you at the moment, but in the long run, it’s not going to do anything for your business and that’s what matters here, right? Take a few minutes before you start replying then start with…
Step 2: Say hello. Then say thank you.
This might hurt more than any other step in this article, but it’s a necessary one because it defuses the situation and makes you the adult in the room, especially when the review starts out with “worst ever!”. It shows that you’re mature (or, at least, coherent) enough to accept the criticism, and it makes the narrative of the answer more reliable than the customers’.
Step 3: Validate the customer.
Again, it might feel like you’re going against the grain by validating someone who is wrong, but what you want is a happy customer and to set a good example for anyone else reading the review. Let the customer know you understand they’re upset and you’re not calling them crazy. This will go a long way in ending the exchange sooner rather than later and not after a bout of “You’re the worst! No, you’re the worst!”.
Only now do you start laying down the actual facts of the situation. In the case of the example above, you can point out that the call-out price was listed on the website and that the technician did their job by assessing the work then offering a quote so that the customer would know the final price beforehand. Whatever your bad Yelp review situation may be, politely writing down the facts will make you a lot more appealing to a future customer.
Additionally, you never know, one man’s “worst ever!” is the next man’s treasure. Someone might feel like $600 for that type of job was a bargain to begin with.
Step 5: Take it privately.
Once you’ve made your story clear, it’s best to make yourself available privately, via phone or email. There’s no need to offer compensation unless you want to, but a private message will be a lot more useful than continuing to air dirty laundry on Yelp. This way, you end the story on a polite note and don’t let it devolve into a hate thread.
Scenario B: How to answer a bad Yelp review when the customer is right.
This is where things get really hard. From time to time, it can happen that your services may fall short and for good reason. Mistakes, misunderstanding, lack of forethought, all these can lead to a negative experience where you actually bear the responsibility. So how do you deal with a bad Yelp review where the customer is right?
Step 1: Do not, under any circumstance, ignore a bad Yelp review when you’ve made a mistake.
This is the first thing any prospective customer will notice. Then they will begin to doubt your services, as well as your leadership. “If this business can’t even try to make it better, then why should I take the risk?” is how their thinking goes and would you blame them?
Step 2: Say hello. Then say thank you.
Very similar to the previous situation, as manners will get you a lot further than a cold, impersonal reply. People are simply geared to reflect the attitude they’re being shown, so appearing kind and eager to make it all better will make the slighted customer a lot more open to listening to you.
Step 3: Take responsibility.
As a manager, as a business owner, but also as a person, we all make mistakes. Taking responsibility is what separates the true leaders from those who only want to enjoy the fruits of being in this privileged position. It’s important again to validate the customer, accept that their experience fell short of you standards,
Step 4: Offer compensation.
This is up to you. Depending on how many customers you service, how often this happens, and what you consider reasonable. It’s tempting to think that this might attract trolls who leave a bad review just to get a freebie, but then we can go back to the previous scenario. Additionally, never forget to take before and after photos of a job so that you have ample proof of the quality of your work.
Step 5: Take it privately.
Since what people consider reasonable compensation can vary wildly, it’s advisable to take this specific conversation offline. This way, you don’t end up with a negative thread detailing a negotiation that doesn’t concern anyone else but you and the customer.
The takeaway on answering a bad Yelp review
All in all, responding to a bad yelp review is mostly about keeping your cool and dealing with the matter directly. It’s definitely worth the effort. If the customer was unfair, you’ve at least shown your side of the story, as well as the fact that you’re a polite and trustworthy business, to others who might be looking at your review in order to decide whether to hire you or not.
However, if the customer was right, you’ve also demonstrated that you can take responsibility and do your best to right a wrong. This way, even if something does go badly, a customer can always trust you to fix it.
To give you a hand in crafting the best bad Yelp review (or any other kind of review) response, we’ve put together a template, where you can easily copy and paste an answer that’s tailored to your citation. Click below to download, then get started with improving your reviews!
Hi! I'm Cristina Maria
And I want to bring next-level strategies to the field service industry. When I'm not working on the best tips to grow your business, I'm on the lookout for a sci-fi novel to beat The Foundation.