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We’ve talked about the importance of getting online reviews in the past, particularly when it comes to boosting your local search presence. Customers are more apt to try a franchise if they see that others — especially friends, family, neighbors, and other acquaintances — have tried and enjoyed that business.

The ease with which franchise customers can leave online reviews can be a doubled edged sword, however — it’s great when you’re garnering positive reviews, but not-so-great when unsatisfied customers take their turn leaving feedback. Just a few negative online reviews can throw your online reputation off-balance a bit.

Fortunately, certain sites that feature online reviews, Yelp and Google Plus among them, allow you to respond to negative feedback. As with any form of public customer communication, it’s important to compose your responses carefully, though. Here are our guidelines for responding to negative online reviews as your franchise location.

Tips for Responding to Negative Online Reviews

Respond Within a Reasonable Time Period

If you allow negative online reviews to linger without responding in a timely manner, you may lose prospective customers over it. After all, those customers will be able to see any negative online reviews and it will appear as though you completely ignored the feedback. You shouldn’t reply too quickly, lest you’re not able to make a cogent, level-headed response, but you should act within a few days. And once you receive negative online reviews, be sure to put effort toward gathering positive testimonials, too.

Don’t Be Too Defensive

Failing to acknowledge negative online reviews isn’t the only thing that can harm your online reputation. If you post a response that’s too defensive, your franchise can come off as childish or bullying. In your response to negative feedback, keep “the customer is always right” in mind. Your job is not to refute the claims made in online reviews, no matter how untruthful or embellished they are. Nor is it your job to tell your side of the story.

Kansas City | How to Respond to Negative Online ReviewsRather, you should acknowledge the customer’s stated concerns and reiterate that their negative experience was an anomaly that’s not tolerated by your franchise (“I apologize that our service was slow that day. We do our best to ensure that all customers are served promptly, and it sounds like our location was not up to our standards on your visit.”) Be genuine in your response. Provide your contact information and the instruction to communicate with you directly so that you can make things right.

It’s key to remember that your response isn’t just for the eyes of the reviewer: once it’s posted, it will be viewed by thousands of potential customers who are looking into your franchise. Just as prospects base buying decisions on others’ online reviews, so too may they be swayed by your response to unsatisfied feedback. Be sure that what you post is respectful and reflective of your franchise’s brand standards.

Respond Only On the Review Site

Don’t call more attention to bad online reviews by posting a rebuttal elsewhere. Your response to negative online reviews belongs one place: on the site where the unhappy response was left. Though you may be tempted to write a blog or social media post defending your franchise location’s honor, doing so will only draw unnecessary eyes to angry customer’s online reviews. You’re much better suited focusing efforts on getting more positive online reviews and even spotlighting these testimonials on your content channels.

Bad Online Reviews? Get Help With Online Reputation Management

If your franchise has some issues with your online reputation, Franchise Marketing Group can help. We specialize in online reputation management, meaning we can not only help you gather positive online reviews, but also devise strategies to weed out negative online reviews before they’re even left.

Want to know more about handling bad online reviews? Call (971) 212-4026 or contact us today to discuss online reputation management. You can also feel free to visit our office in Kansas City.