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Feb 14, 2019

Raters ‘Gonna Rate: How to Respond to Negative Reviews Like it Ain’t No Thang

Have you ever gotten a bad review? Naw, we’re kidding, every brand in the known universe has gotten at least one bad review. Your page or product can be up for less than a day before your first bad review, or it could take weeks or months, but eventually it happens.

In fact, the more successful you are at gathering good reviews, the more likely it is that you’ll get a bad one. It’s the law of averages, man. But don’t sweat it. You know why? ‘Cause raters ‘gonna rate. And today, the tentacle team here to tell you how to turn those frowns upside down and respond to negative reviews like it ain’t no thang.

Proving You Are Not a Ghost Brand

Whether you’re an established old brand or brand-new, you know that reviews matter. A lot. And that mixed reviews are technically better than no reviews at all because modern customers don’t even trust a brand or product that doesn’t have a few reviews. A review-free page is spooky, like a completely empty building or a mystery-meat sandwich. Customers don’t know whether your product is good, bad, or even if it is a real thing.

Even Bad Reviews Build Trust

So those first few reviews are crucial. And after that? Every new review, even the bad ones, add to how much customers feel like they can trust you. By trusting the experiences of customers who have come before. You know that having a high overall star rating and glowingly detailed reviews are a good thing. But did you know that having a few bad reviews also builds trust?

One or two negative or pros-and-cons reviews per page actually make your page seem more genuine. Because it’s clear that you’re not deleting, hiding, or burying the occasional bad review, therefore your brand is probably more honest than those who obsess on eliminating any negative comment.

Raters ‘Gonna Rate – Haters ‘Gonna Hate

As a growing brand, it’s important to accept that your reviewers are individuals who are compelled to share their opinions — good and bad. They want to tell the world what they experienced, they want to become valued voices in the community. And some will even feel compelled to mention at least one downside even if they had a great time. So remember, raters gonna rate. It’s what you do in response that matters. 

Let’s take a look at the types of mixed and negative reviews that every brand can expect to see.

  • Fixable Problems
    • Broken On Arrival
    • Product Does Not Work For Me
    • Flimsier/Smaller/Lower Quality than Expected
  • Pointless Hate (Haters ‘Gonna Hate)
    • Didn’t Work For Me – And Now I Hate Everything
    • Trolls Spreading Vitriol
    • Competition Disguised as Customers
  • Friendly Negatives (Raters ‘Gonna Rate)
    • Pros-and-Cons
    • Didn’t Work For Me – But It’s Cool

Fixable Problem Reviews

Example:

  • “This is not what I ordered! I was supposed to get the green scarf, this one is blue!”
  • “Complete junk, broken when I opened the box. Too bad.”
  • “The slide-locks were missing from my kit. I can’t finish putting this crib together without them!”

The first kind of negative review is the most common: People who had a problem with your product or service. They review saying that their product was broken in the mail, that your service didn’t have the right options for them, or that your mobile app integration was hard to figure out.

The key is to never take these personally. These aren’t really bad reviews, their requests for customer service. Many brands have actually turned a two-star into a five-star simply by seeing this kind of negative review for what it really is. And then offering stunning customer service on the back-end.

How to Respond:

Reach out to reviewers who had a problem experience. Offer them a replacement, a custom service, or help them find the right product in your line for what they need since their first try wasn’t right. By solving the problem and being incredibly supportive, you can turn many of those frowns upside down and into edited four or five star reviews.

Haters ‘Gonna Hate Reviews

Example:

  • “This totally sucks! Don’t even bother! Boooo!!!!”
  • “My assorted colours didn’t have a pink one! This product is totally bogus. I don’t even want a pink one anymore and you shouldn’t either! Don’t trust these slimy frauds!”
  • “The sticky side was way too sticky and left a residue on my wall. OtherProduct is way better though, and you guys should try it out. Unlike this cheap sticky crap”

Of course, sometimes you get someone who just wants to spew vitriol and announce their displeasure as loudly and upsettingly as possible. If they have a problem with the product, they don’t want it fixed. They don’t want a replacement. They just want to trash-talk on your page.

And if they don’t have a real problem, then you also don’t have anything to worry about in terms of real customer service. Look closely, you might be surprised to discover just how many of your negative reviews have no substance to them at all. No problem you can fix, or their problem wasn’t anything the brand could help. These are more likely to be trolls (people who like to hurt others online for no reason) or even underhanded industry competition. Which is very common these days.

If you can prove the review has no substance or comes from competition, you may be able to get the platform to take them down. But for the most part, just back slowly away. Haters are gonna hate. Sometimes on your reviews. But you can also trust your other customers to know an internet troll when they see one.

How to Respond:

Don’t. Seriously. If there’s nothing to fix, or your overtures to correct a problem are ignored/insulted, then just don’t engage. You can’t stop haters from hating, but getting involved or caring at all about their hate only feeds them.

Raters ‘Gonna Rate Reviews

Example:

  • “This squid hat is smaller than I thought, too small for my kid. But it’s good quality and I gave it to my sister who has a younger child.”
  • “This shirt is pretty cool, but there are a few imperfections in the seam around the sleeves.”
  • “Pros: Easy to set up, holds all my stuff, looks good with my other furniture. Cons: Fasteners seem a little flimsy, falls apart if turned upside-down”

Then there are the reviewers that can’t help but include something negative in an otherwise positive review. Or those with a negative review that is also slightly positive. These are, in fact, some of your most valuable reviews possible. Even compared to glowing five-stars. Because they build trust.

The first type is the detailed reviewer who likes to use pros-and-cons. They may only ever give three or four stars, because in their minds five stars are reserved for products that completely blow their minds. They like to list in-detail what it was like to open the box, assemble the product, use it for the first time, and may even come back to give a six-month update. And customers trust them.

Most customers are smart enough to know that the ‘cons’ for one person might not be downsides for them. And the detailed description of customer experience gives your future customers a great perspective on how they might experience your product or service for them.

The second type of valued negative review are people who see the good side of a not-so-great purchase. If the product was the wrong size, material, or even if it arrived damaged, these reviewers feel obligated to also share what was good about the experience. Rather than nothing but negatives, they may mention your product is good quality, but didn’t suit their purposes. Or that your customer service is great and shipping was fast, even if you shipped them the wrong color

How to Respond:

This type of reviewer should always be responded to positively. If there’s something to fix, provide superb customer service and there’s a good chance you can ‘save’ the review and turn it totally negative. If there’s nothing to fix, or for the pros-and-cons style, simply send a friendly thank-you message. These reviewers are highly valuable because customers trust them.

A Word on Rewards

If you’re using incentives like discounts or free replacements as a way to ‘make it right’ with negative reviewers, we do want to advise that you do so carefully. Always take your conversations out of the public eye into email or your customer service platform before offering incentives and compensations. 

Why, you ask? Because scam artists who want free stuff will start piling on the negative reviews to get your goodies. Exactly the opposite of what you want. So you can and sometimes should absolutely send replacements or give future discounts. But keep it on the DL.

Responding to Negative Reviews Like it Ain’t No Thang

So what did we learn today? Negative reviews aren’t the end of the world. Getting one is not the apocalypse and, honestly, they’re pretty darn useful for raising your brand credibility. Handle the haters like a pro and you’ll gain respect. Handle complaints like a hotel concierge and you’ll gain appreciation. And handle pros-and-cons with grace and you’ll seem like you’re in tune with your audience.

In other words, don’t sweat the negative reviews. There ain’t nothing in an average negative review that a good attitude can’t solve. For more great insights on reputation management, marketing, and building your brand up right: Contact us today! The Octopus Creative team is always read to lend a tentacle.

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