Recently I was contacted by a seasoned practitioner who received a negative Yelp review and was panicked at how to respond. As a state-licensed healthcare provider in practice for over 10 years, she has many client success stories to share. The vast majority of her Yelp reviews have been positive, until now.
She needed a well-crafted response that would not damage her professional reputation or cause her to lose future clients. I started by sending this practitioner links to resources so she could craft her own response.
But she was in the thick of studying for her next certification exam so simply didn’t have the time or mental bandwidth to tackle a response herself. So she hired us to help.
If you’re a DIYer who has the time to write your own response to a negative online review (on Yelp, Healthgrades, or another review site), read on…
Your Response Has Mileage
Yelp can be a supportive and sometimes tricky marketing channel. Keep in mind that you’re not writing a response to just this one person. You’re writing to everyone who checks out your business on Yelp from now til the end of time.
You want all of those other people to see that you’re friendly and caring, that you treat each of your clients with fairness and respect, and that you’re genuinely concerned if someone doesn’t have a great experience with you. How you respond to a review is as important as what you respond.
When you feel the sting of a negative Yelp review, the first and most important piece of advice is to take a breath before you react. Step away and allow yourself time to settle from the emotions that come up inside of you.
Perhaps you feel threatened, deflated, or fearful. Usually the feelings that come up are uncomfortable at best, and responding from a place of stress or reaction is not helpful to the situation.
If you must get some thoughts down now, take your time, write a draft response in a separate document, but don’t post it immediately. Walk away for an hour (or a day if you need to). Step away from the situation, so you can let go of the emotions attached to this interaction.
Be curious what this situation brings up for you, and rest assured that this customer’s review is actually more about them than it is about you. Later, when you can be more objective, is the perfect time to sit down and craft your response. It’s important to remain professional and impersonal when you do respond, and here’s how to achieve that.
Apologize if needed
The first thing to do in responding to a negative online review is to figure out whether you’ve done something that genuinely deserves an apology. Investigate what happened, talk to your staff, read the review again, and make a practical and logical decision about the facts of the situation.
You might also do a little research on your reviewer– do they often write negative reviews? Are they in the habit of looking for compensation of some sort? Is there a pattern of behavior that you should take note of?
When you’re ready to write, remember to stay professional, and do not attack the person or respond from a place of emotion. Your feelings do not belong here. If you’re feeling upset, angry, or insulted, then maybe you’re not ready to write a response yet.
When you are ready to craft your response, make a judgement about whether your business was properly and fairly represented by this interaction. Consider the facts of what happened, then relate those to your standards of business practice and the experience you want your clients to have.
Important: be honest with yourself. If you did make a mistake, acknowledge that clearly and without excuses, and apologize for it. If you have not made a mistake, then empathize by saying, “I’m sorry that you’re upset,” or “I’m sorry that you feel that way,” and then stop. Next step…
Acknowledge their complaint
If an apology is warranted, give one. If not, explain to the client, without agreeing that you were in the wrong, that their expectation was not in alignment with your methodology. You can acknowledge that a customer is unhappy with the service you provided without admitting to any fault.
Express understanding for a customer’s expectations, or empathy for their feelings, then explain your process so that they and other readers will understand how you conduct business. Explain from your perspective the facts of what happened as you see them, and accept that your customer may see things differently from you.
Thank them for the feedback
Manners go a long way – and thanking someone for a less than sparkling comment is just as important as thanking a grateful, happy customer. You can appreciate that they left feedback, that they offered some information that could improve your business.
If their comments are warranted, let them know that you’ve taken their feedback into consideration and are improving your business practices as a result.
One more thing….
After you have written, edited, and posted your response you should consider whether there are things you could have done better. Ask yourself, does your business need to make any changes as a result of this feedback?
Think about whether your business could have served this particular client differently, and how, and if there are changes you could make which would better serve all of your clients going forward.
There’s no shame in updating or improving your business policies, and taking steps to do so will ensure great reviews for your business in the future. Now go forth and put this uncomfortable incident behind you.
If you need help writing your response to a negative Yelp or online review, contact us to discuss your needs.
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This is an original article from Alternative Health Marketing. If you’d like to republish this article on your blog or print publication, you may do so freely with the acknowledgement, “This article is republished with permission from Alternative Health Marketing,” and provide a link back to the original article. It would also be great if you could email us and let us know where it’s being published. Alternative Health Marketing is committed to helping holistic practitioners and conscious business owners attract more ideal clients with targeted brand messaging, a professionally designed website, and a simple marketing roadmap. Sign up for a free 30-minute strategy session to learn how we can help you reach your practice goals.