Reviews are an important part of any business. But when you receive a negative review, it feels like the reputation of your firm is on the line. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Luckily, negative reviews are not all bad. In fact, according to Reevoo, negative reviews have been shown to increase conversions by 85%. Surprising, right?
As part of our ongoing SEC ad rule series, we’ll explore how to respond to negative reviews and how they are beneficial for business. Please keep in mind any review responses or new marketing strategies should be cleared by compliance before use.
The content in this blog post is the result of Twenty Over Ten’s interpretation and Twenty Over Ten is not a compliance expert. Information herein should not be considered legal advice and financial advisors should consult with consult the appropriate authorities as needed including the SEC.
Can Negative Reviews Be Good for Business?
Looking at data from BrightLocal’s study of reviews, we can find out:
As expected, the overall rating is ranked the highest. But second place, at just 3% less, is legitimacy. This is where negative reviews come in — they improve legitimacy by helping to authenticate the positive reviews.
Luckily, no one expects a business to be perfect at all times. And reviews are expected to reflect this, as they represent an actual customer experience. Looking at the same study from BightLocal confirms this:
28% percent of customers consider a 4-star average to be a reasonable minimum to work with a business. And the next closest after that is 3 stars at 16%. That’s a whole 1-2 stars away from “perfect.”
Assuming your average reviews are positive, how do you gain an advantage from negative ones? The key is to relate to the review writer and take control of the narrative.
To help do just that, we’ve created a list of guidelines for responding to different types of negative reviews. This includes reviews that have been done by mistake, which can be just as harmful if not addressed. Here’s how you can own the reviews of your firm.
How Financial Advisors Can Respond To Negative Reviews
1. Empathize With the Review Writer
Think of the last time you had a bad experience with a company. You most likely expected a result that they failed to deliver on. This is typically the underlying issue in a negative review.
Now imagine the company replied to a negative review you wrote. In one response, they ignore your concerns. In the other response, they apologize and offer to resolve the situation. Which one would make you feel better about the business?
In this review from Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery, you can see how the replier responds to the writer’s concerns with empathy:
Empathizing with review writers shows that your firm is conscious of its client’s concerns — which is great for reputation and lends itself to our next point, personalization.
2. Personalize Your Response
In marketing, personalization is a key factor to standing out from the competition and making your audience feel seen. The same goes for review responses. You’re acknowledging your reviewer when you address them by name.
If you don’t have access to the reviewer’s name, then use their account name in its place. Either is better than a message that does not address the writer. To further enhance personalization, consider including contact information for the review writer to contact your firm directly.
Many of these reviews start with the writer’s name. But this example from Superica is also written in a personal format, similar to a letter, and offers further contact information to take things off-line.
3. Own the Problem
Even if the review isn’t fair, it still affects your firm. Start by apologizing for the issue and show that you’re willing to take control of the situation. Thank the reviewer for their feedback and acknowledge the situation. And even though it’s a cliche, thank them for helping to improve your processes, as some negative reviews are able to point out possible improvements.
This example from the hotel, Atwood, shows how a review can be written to take ownership without making excuses:
4. Offer a Solution
Steps 1-3 seek to connect with the review writer, where step 4 helps to resolve the situation. By offering a solution to the writer’s problem you’re demonstrating to readers that you are willing to make up for mistakes.
In the worst-case scenario, the reader declines or ignores your offer. In the best case, they take up the opportunity, and you’re able to change a negative review into a positive one.
For example, in this review response by Austin Bike Tours and Rentals, an unhappy customer provides a two-star response. However, the replier does an excellent job of acknowledging the customer, describing the situation is not standard and offers a direct refund in accordance with policy:
5. Provide a Timely Response
You will want to acknowledge a negative review as soon as possible. First, because it demonstrates you are aware of your audience’s concerns. Second, because it helps you take control of the situation.
For example, JetBlue does a phenomenal job of responding to this customer’s review and quickly takes the conversation offline:
By replying to your reviewer, you’re showing an active desire to resolve their problem. Of course, providing a timely response requires knowing when a review is written. Luckily, you don’t need to check your review page every day. Instead, consider setting up email alerts on platforms like Google. This will help you stay up-to-date on new reviews, without adding to your daily routine.
6. Be Consistent
The response you provide will depend on the context of the review you receive. Just make sure you and your team maintain consistency in your responses. This means providing similar responses to similar situations, but also establishing a precedent for future clients. This way expectations are not off.
For example, the response to the following review performs the above tips but also establishes a set of expectations for future customers:
The best way to ensure this is to establish a reply policy. Provide the tips above and make sure to assign a team member to be responsible for reading reviews and writing replies. To help write replies, consider using the following templates.
Templates for Responding To a Negative Review
The list above is great to guide your general approach to responding. But different clients will provide different reviews, so you’ll want to adjust based on the context of their message. Here are some possible negative reviews an advisor could receive, and templates for responding to them.
The Short Review
The short review often provides little to no context of the issue. In the worst case, the review writer only gives one star and writes something like, “Don’t go here.” This sort of review provides no real window into the scenario that resulted in this review. Here’s what we recommend saying in response:
The Detailed Review
Some reviews will go into exacts, providing precise issues. These can be some of the best, because they provide you with the chance to resolve specific problems, instead of a generic negative review. To respond to these, consider writing the following:
The Accidental Review
Sometimes the negative review you receive is fake or was meant for a different business. In this scenario, you still want to be respectful. Acknowledge the message, but do not start by thanking or apologizing. Instead, write something similar to the following:
The Targeted Review
Some reviews will target a specific member of a business, calling them out by name. For both large and small firms, this can be challenging. You want to acknowledge the review, while still protecting your team. When you write this reply, make sure to reference the team as a whole, shifting away from the individual mentioned. Consider writing something like the following:
Wrapping Things Up
Remember that responding to a negative review is an opportunity to own the narrative. Follow the above six tips to respond to the client, and make sure you’re calm before responding. When handled well, negative reviews can ground positive reviews and bring long-term benefits to your firm.
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About The Author
Stuart is a Content Marketing Specialist at Twenty Over Ten and enjoys creating content that both entertains and educates. A Game Designer at heart, he can be found pursuing one of his many hobbies during his free time.