Ask the experts: Responding to negative reviews on your website

Our regular "Ask the experts" feature in Professional Beauty talks to Elliot Adams, communications manager at Yelp, on how to best respond to a negative review on a consumer website.


Q. How can I best respond to a negative review on consumer websites?

A. Customer reviews play an important role in influencing consumer behaviour, with many using these to guide their purchasing decisions. Where once any complaints from a dissatisfied customer were limited to their friends and family, the popularity of social media has magnified the impact disgruntled customers can have on a business’s reputation.

Regardless of how great the product or customer service, business owners should accept that negative reviews are part of running a business, and have a strategy in place to manage them.

Firstly, you should acknowledge a complaint straight away and respond as thoughtfully as possible. That way you’ll minimise potential damage and show customers that you care and take their loyalty seriously. Your customers are always connected, so the longer it takes to respond to a negative or false representation of your business, the more time it has to spread.

Respond to the bad review in a respectful and sincere way that communicates you empathise with the customer. Apologise for the customer’s negative experience and invite them to return so you can make it up to them. If you feel the review is wrong then say why but in a professional and reasoned manner. The key here is to create a meaningful, personal dialogue, and to do this publicly to show other prospective customers that you’re listening and addressing the matter.

Then take the conversation offline as soon as possible to avoid potential further public criticism, but also to make things feel more personal, speed the resolution process and protect the customer’s privacy. And finally, be sure to turn this into a positive, taking the feedback as an opportunity to review your business. Bad reviews should be regarded as a useful early-warning mechanism for spotting problems and addressing them before they escalate.

Elliot Adams is the communications manager at Yelp, a consumer review website. He has worked in the communications industry for over a decade representing global brands such as HP and Canon, as well as a raft of start-ups.  

Ask the Expert features can be found in Professional Beauty, the monthly magazine for beauty professionals. Sunscribe for just €44 a year here or download the digital app on itunes.