Today’s consumers are more informed than ever before. Thanks to the internet, buyers often research products and services to make purchasing decisions before they even step out of the door. So, what factors influence these decisions? For many, it’s all about a business’s online reviews.
More than 98% of consumers read at least one review before purchasing a product online, and nearly 90% say reviews play a role in discovering local businesses. Moreover, 96% of customers check for negative reviews. These people want to understand two things: a business’ weaknesses and their response to negative reviews.
While coaches strive to forge positive relationships with all their clients, negative reviews are an unfortunate yet inevitable part of running a business. But the best coaches can turn even their harshest client complaints into opportunities to grow their practices. Here’s what you need to know about responding to negative reviews.
Why should you respond to negative reviews?
No one likes getting negative feedback — least of all a coach. Your ability to build great, trusting relationships that help clients reach their goals is the very foundation of your business. When a client is unhappy with the work you’ve done together, it can bring up a lot of uncomfortable emotions, from anger to insecurity and everything in between.
You might be tempted to avoid those feelings by washing your hands of the client and ignoring their review — but that could be disastrous for your business. Remember, nearly all of today’s consumers use Yelp and other online reviews to inform their purchasing decisions. Even if you shut your laptop and never look at that bad Google review again, others may see it and choose to look for another coach. A dissatisfied customer may also hurt your brand through word of mouth, driving away even more potential clients.
Fortunately, you have the power to shield your business against this potential reputational damage. Here are a few reasons why you should issue every bad review a response.
It shows you care
As coaches, our work is about caring for our clients, their goals, and their successes. Responding to negative reviews is just one example of a way to show your clients how much they matter to you. And when you respond to a negative review, you aren’t just communicating to that one person that you care — you’re showing anyone who sees the review. And we have great news: as many as 45 percent of consumers are more likely to support a business that responds to negative reviews.
It proves you’re human
When it comes to customer service, a little humanity goes a long way. Consumers don’t like dealing with faceless, unfeeling corporations who don’t notice when someone leaves a bad review. You give the business a human face by responding to feedback, often making reviewers and readers more likely to empathize with you and give you a chance.
It helps you make things right
Responding to a negative review isn’t just about saying sorry. It’s an opportunity for the business owner (you) to replace the bad customer experience with a positive one. Sincerely apologizing and offering to resolve the issue privately can go a long way toward smoothing things with your reviewer. This will help you rebuild a relationship and save you from bad word of mouth that might drive new clients away.
How to respond to negative reviews: 7 tips
Responding to negative Google reviews and other feedback can benefit your clients, reputation, and business. Sometimes, your response to a bad review is more important to a customer than the review itself. But how should you respond to a negative review? Use these guidelines to craft a professional, sincere, and effective response:
1. Respond promptly
Let’s say you notice a negative Google review for your coaching business. The feedback might leave you shaken, hurt, or even angry (depending on the type of client the reviewer was). You want time to absorb their feedback and plan your response, but remember that time is of the essence. Most people expect prompt customer service — especially when they’ve left a negative review. And the longer that review goes unanswered, the more you risk potential clients seeing it without your reply. Try to respond in a timely manner, ideally within one day of seeing the review.
2. Make it personal
Clients can tell when they’re getting a boilerplate reply to their review — and they don’t appreciate it. Make sure your clients know that you care about their situation by using their names (if possible) and addressing the specifics of their review.
3. Show how much you appreciate their feedback
While we’d all prefer to receive only positive reviews, it’s essential to acknowledge the value of negative feedback. Client complaints show you where you can improve, which makes room for positive change. Let the reviewer know you appreciate them bringing their concerns to your attention, as this gives you a chance to resolve the matter appropriately. This type of reply speaks volumes about your business and its customer experience.
4. Provide a public response and then take the issue offline
Once you respond to the reviewer publicly, it’s time to move the matter offline — or at least away from a public review page. Doing so shows the client that you’re not just offering lip service to protect your business and gives you a chance to work together to resolve the matter in a way that makes everyone happy.
5. Leave your ego aside, show empathy, and apologize
The most challenging part of responding to negative feedback is the apology. Negative reviews usually come with emotional baggage — the client may feel you were a poor coach, and you may think they were the most difficult client you’ve had in years. But despite your ego, you need to apologize and acknowledge any fault you bear in the issue. This will make your client more likely to empathize with you and seek a solution.
6. Don’t make excuses
While showing empathy and eschewing your ego, remember to avoid making excuses for the client’s bad interaction. As a business owner, the customer experience is your responsibility. Accept their feedback and find a way to improve on the relationship in the future.
7. Ask for a second chance
Show the client that you’re willing to make amends for their experience. This might mean offering compensation or additional services if necessary. Remember that resolving the issues doesn’t mean agreeing to anything the client asks — it’s ok to say no and suggest a solution you feel is more appropriate.
Care for your clients with Practice
Negative reviews are never fun but can be a valuable learning experience. Talking to unhappy clients helps you find the weak points of your coaching business and where you need to improve. After an apology, some introspection, and a tweak or two, your practice will be better than ever.
Of course, client reviews aren’t the only way to improve your business. Client management tools can assist you in staying organized, protecting customer data, and building relationships more efficiently. Practice’s client relationship management (CRM) software helps coaches like you manage their clients successfully so they can spend more time on coaching and less on apologies. Try our CRM and discover how Practice can support you in taking your coaching business to the next level.