11 tips to best respond to negative reviews

No business wants (or wants to have to respond to) negative reviews online. 

But they do happen, and you must respond to reduce any damage to your online reputation and potential sales.

About 90 percent of consumers worldwide read reviews before buying products, and about 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a recommendation from a friend or a family member.

Of course, negative reviews can happen regardless of the quality of your service and/or product, or even how many other people love it.

The following are 11 tips for you to respond effectively to any negative reviews that might come your way.

Respond quickly

Time is of the essence. An unanswered negative review will only fester and draw more attention online.

Whether it’s you or someone else on your team, ensure that you have a system in place to regularly check for new reviews. Many platforms will send a notification as well, but don’t simply rely on that. Notifications can get missed.

Aim to respond to reviews within 24 to 48 hours maximum. But truly, the sooner, the better. Reviews and responses are timestamped, so others reading the thread will see how long it took you to respond.

See our six ways to be more responsive to your customers.

Introduce yourself and your connection to the team

While it’s fantastic for the owner of a business to personally respond to customer complaints, it’s not always realistic.

But whether you’re the owner or a representative of the company, be sure to introduce yourself to help establish that personal connection with the reviewer.

Acknowledge the issue

Acknowledgment is huge. It doesn’t matter whether you think the customer is right, just having an off day or doesn’t understand your process or product at all.

Keep your emotions in check, and read the customer’s feedback objectively.

Then, start by thanking the customer for not only bringing the situation to your attention but taking the time to do so. It opens the door to finding a solution.

Apologize

Again, it just doesn’t matter whether the customer is right or wrong, it’s your responsibility as the business to take the high road and apologize for the issue he or she had.

Apologies go a long way and show that you care about delivering a high level of service. Make sure to be clear that the customer’s happiness is your No. 1 priority.

Keep in mind that there is a difference between “I apologize” and “I’m sorry.”

To apologize is to take responsibility for something on behalf of your company. To say sorry is to emphasize with the customer without acknowledging that your company is specifically to blame.

When there’s a negative review because of something your business is responsible for, then apologize.

When there’s a negative review because of something outside of your control, then you can consider the “I’m sorry this happened to you” approach.

If needed, offer an explanation

Tread lightly here. It’s easy to go so deep into an explanation that it can read as an excuse or being defensive.

Often, an apology alone will suffice. But when necessary, keep your explanation short and to the point. If there was a technology glitch, for example, say that. But don’t dive into all the headaches that glitch caused you personally or how cumbersome it was to get it fixed.

Remember that as a business, you must take responsibility for all good (and bad) experiences.

Think quick context, not an extended narrative. Less is more. 

Reinforce your company’s values

Similar to offering an explanation, it’s best to concisely state the importance of customer service to your business. Spending too much time on this point can be taken wrong.

Just briefly mention what your current standards for customer service are, that you take customer complaints very seriously and that customer service is an integral part of your company’s values.

Make it right for the reviewer

Remember that a bad experience with any business likely costs a customer time and/or money (and that’s where emotions can run high, for sure).

Be sure to not only make it right, but to compensate the customer into using your business again. A 20 percent discount on his or her next visit or product can turn a one-time, unhappy customer into a lifetime, loyal customer.

Of course, the compensation should make sense for the situation at hand. If they’re dealing with a malfunctioning product, for example, 20 percent off a second product doesn’t make sense. But a free exchange as well as 20 percent off a future product can work well together. You both fixed the issue and encouraged them to continue doing business with you.

If nothing can be done to resolve the situation, write a compelling public response to the review that shows your sincere regret and desire to avoid that type of situation from happening again. 

There’s a wide range of options here. Focus on the immediate problem at hand, and don’t be afraid to step out of the box when it comes to making it right. Every business is different.

Be human and personable

Whether you get hit with 10 online reviews per week or hundreds per day, make the effort to not sound “canned” in your responses. 

While consumers can sense if a reviewer is being overly aggressive or out of line, they can also sense if you’re templating a bit too much in your responses.

There are many helpful online review response templates available on the internet, but use them as inspiration. They’ll never substitute the type of thoughtful response you can write on your own after reading and thinking through the issue a customer had.

Remember that you always want to humanize your brand as much as you can online. Avoid templated shortcuts.

Keep it short

There obviously are several components to any successful response to a negative review, but overall, try to keep your response as short as possible.

Longer replies often get ignored. They also can (simply in their length) appear desperate or defensive, and there’s really no need to go crazy in length. 

At the end of the day, you have a customer who is unhappy. Address that directly and concisely.

Invite the reviewer to continue the conversation offline

While there can definitely be a little back and forth in review responses, a public comment thread is not the best place to hash out all the finer details of resolving an issue for a customer.

Invite that customer to continue the conversation with you directly. This can be with a direct phone number to call, an email or even a direct message on a social media platform.

Of course, don’t just leave that ball in his or her court. When you comment with that invitation, take the extra step and also let them know that you just directly messaged them, for example.

Remember that you’re writing for two audiences: the customer who had a negative experience, as well as all the potential customers who are reading your reviews. Make sure that the end of your response has a “next steps” approach. It doesn’t leave anyone hanging.

Get a second opinion

When in doubt (and obviously if possible), don’t hesitate to run your written response by a colleague for a second opinion.

As much as you might want to be objective and fair in your responses to negative reviews, they naturally trigger emotion and can even feel like a personal attack. Because of this, it never hurts to get an outside opinion on your response before you post it.

In conclusion

Remember that negative reviews can happen on almost any online platform, not just Yelp or Google. Your business could be tagged in an unhappy tweet or a check-in post on Facebook.

Have a system in place so that you can stay on top of all online reviews coming in, not just the negative ones. If a customer has a great experience, thank him or her for sharing. But now, if someone has a bad experience, you can confidently address it. How you do so can actually outweigh any negative perception that a negative review might otherwise cause.

Negative reviews are not a battlefield for you to go to war in. Take them as an opportunity to convert unhappy customers into brand loyalists and to maintain your integrity as a business.

Online reviews are a form of social proof that you can leverage to actually grow your business. Check out these nine ways you can use social proof in your digital marketing.

As you begin taking on negative reviews with a fresh perspective, consider optimizing your digital marketing process, which includes automation, audience segmentation and enhanced email marketing capabilities, to name a few. DailyStory can help. Schedule your free demo with us today.

17 of the best social proof tools to boost your sales

Social proof can help convert your potential customers into paying customers.

This marketing technique refers to potential customers assuming that what others are doing is correct based on how often they see those actions. In other words, social proof is about looking to others to figure out the right way to interact in any given situation.

About 92 percent of online consumers will read product reviews before purchasing.

Find out more about social proof and nine ways you can use it.

The following are 17 of the best social proof tools to build your credibility and boost your sales. Several include money-back guarantees and free trials.

TrustPulse

TrustPulse is a popular social proof tool for business websites. It can automate real-time customer activity notifications on your site with unobtrusive (but attention-grabbing) pop-ups.

Such verified website actions include (but are not limited to):

  • Purchases
  • Sign-up form submission
  • Demo registrations

TrustPulse says that you can boost your conversions by as much as 15 percent by using the tool on your website. It also integrates with WordPress, Shopify, WooCommerce, Mailchimp and more.

Pricing

Plans start at $9 per month, but this varies since TrustPulse periodically discounts its prices for new accounts. All of its plans come with a 14-day money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied.

Proof

Proof is another popular social proof tool, with more than 25,000 businesses using it. It offers different ways to customize your social proof notifications, such as how long to show those notifications and on which pages they should appear.

You also can customize whether you feature conversions from the past day, week or even the past three months.

Pricing

Plans start at $24 per month (billed annually), but you can start a 14-day free trial to see if it’s right for your business first.

Smash Balloon

To embed social media feeds anywhere on your WordPress website, consider Smash Balloon. This means that you can highlight user-generated content (UGC), testimonials and reviews from others on social media.

Specifically, Smash Balloon offers five different plugins to help you show social proof on your website:

  • Facebook feed of Facebook reviews 
  • Instagram hashtag feed of user-generated content
  • Twitter feed of tweets that mention your account or branded hashtag
  • YouTube feed featuring a playlist of video testimonials
  • Social Wall combining feeds from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube into a single feed

Pricing

Plans start at $98 per year, but introductory offers usually are available. It also features a 30-day money-back guarantee.

WPForms

WPForms is a user-friendly WordPress form-builder plugin, making it easy to ask for customer reviews that you can then highlight on your ecommerce website.

This is important because consumers trust online reviews.

WPForms features several pre-built templates and integrates with your email marketing service. This means that, in addition to using the tool on your site, you can use your email service to automatically reach out to customers after their purchase from you and include your feedback form.

Pricing

Plans start at $79 per year, but WPForms runs periodic sales for new accounts. It also features a 14-day money-back guarantee.

SocialProve

SocialProve displays conversion or visitor notifications on your website in the form of small pop-ups. It also touts boosting your sales by about 15 percent.

The notifications can be customized to match your branding. Notification types include live activity, live count, visitor combo and activity combo.

It integrates with more than 120 content marketing tools, payment systems, marketing funnel apps and other apps, including (but not limited to):

  • WordPress
  • Wix
  • ClickFunnels
  • Leadpages
  • HubSpot
  • Instapage
  • Squarespace
  • PayPal
  • Stripe

Pricing

Plans start at $359 per year, but you can start with a no-risk, seven-day free trial to see if it works for you. (No credit card information required.)

Thrive Ovation

The WordPress plugin, Thrive Ovation, helps you easily add testimonials to your ecommerce website. 

You can even add social media and blog comments to your testimonials library. Its tagging system helps you find the testimonials you want to include.

There’s also an “awaiting approval” status function, where you’ll receive approval emails from your dashboard to approve any new testimonials before they go live.

Pricing

Plans start at $19 per month, billed annually. It also features a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Proven

Proven is another WordPress plugin that lets you customize the appearance of your social proof notifications to match your branding.

You can create manual entries and control how and when notifications appear. This can include showing notifications on certain pages, only to new visitors, only to logged-in users and so on.

Pricing

Plans start at $39 per year for a single site license.

LetConvert

To show off recent visitor activity, live visitor count and how many conversions have happened on your website, consider LetConvert. It’s also fully customizable, with a variety of colors, fonts and animations.

The tool also features customer cards that allow you to follow your customer’s journey. For example, once a visitor signs up, you can then track his or her details and activity on your website.

Pricing

Plans start at $4.99 per week when billed annually and include a 14-day free trial.

Fomo

Fomo is a tool that offers several templates and display rules that you can use. But you also can create your own if you like. Customizations can apply to notification messages, filters and template or page rules.

No coding necessary for your customizations, which can make it very easy to use.

Pricing

Plans start at $19 per month, but you can try Fomo out first with a 14-day free trial.

Repuso

To show off testimonials and reviews on your site, consider Repuso, which actually monitors your social media platforms for customer reviews. 

You also can collect customer reviews through Repuso’s widgets. The reviews and testimonials go into a dashboard where you can organize them and choose which to display on your website.

Repuso features a number of ways to display these, including:

  • Floating widgets
  • In-line reviews
  • Floating badges
  • Review grid
  • Photo-review sliders

Pricing

Plans start at $9 per month when billed annually, with a free 10-day trial available.

Provely

Provely features different campaign types that will show real-time activity, rotating activity from a selected period of time or past activity.

The tool touts a 250 percent boost to your conversions. You can customize your pop-up notifications, with various templates and the ability to choose the colors that reflect your branding.

Provely says it only takes “2 minutes flat” to set up.

Pricing

Plans start at $97 per year, billed annually.

Boast

Boast is a tool focused on testimonials that’s used by more than 8,000 businesses. Its features help you request, collect, manage and display testimonials from your customers.

This includes testimonials in different formats, such as video, text and audio that you can then show on your website. It integrates with Facebook and YouTube, so you can use your video testimonials across social media platforms.

Boast also offers a mobile app on both iOS and Android that makes it even easier to use by allowing customers to record their testimonials through the app. If you use Boast’s ability to email customers from within the tool to request a testimonial, you can then track where those testimonials are in the process.

Pricing

Plans start at $25 per month, billed annually, and include a 14-day free trial.

WPfomify

Another WordPress social proof plugin is WPfomify. It’s easy to set up and features powerful integrations with other WordPress plugins and email marketing services.

You can use it to show off real-time activity, subscriber activity and client reviews. You also can customize it to match your website’s branding.

Pricing

Plans start at $99 per year and come with a 14-day money-back guarantee.

Yotpo

An ecommerce marketing platform, Yotpo includes social proof features, such as reviews, ratings, visual marketing content and referral programs.

The tool helps you collect website and product reviews, create an FAQ section based on real customer questions, display user-generated content (UGC) and so on.

Yotpo uses AI (artificial intelligence) to message your customers, encouraging them to leave a review after their purchase.

Pricing

Yotpo includes a limited, free plan. Paid plans start at $19 per month.

ProveSource

ProveSource helps you display verified conversions, activities and purchases on your website. You also can customize your notification icons, title color, text, links and so on.

ProveSource makes it easy to create a new social proof notification with a tab system for user flow. Plus, you can add GIFs to your social proof notifications, making things fun and engaging.

The tool also automatically collects such metrics as impressions, clicks, hovers, leads, engaged visitors and engagement rates, among others. You also can connect ProveSource to Google Analytics for a deeper analysis.

Pricing

Plans start at $18 per month, billed annually, but ProveSource says you can start for free on a limited basis.

NotificationX

NotificationX is a WordPress plugin that will show real-time sales and engagement notifications. Its simple interface is easy to set up and use.

The plugin features different notification types, including (but not limited to):

  • Blog comments
  • WordPress reviews
  • WordPress download counts
  • Sales alerts
  • Email subscriptions

Pricing

Plans start at $39 per year, with a 14-day, money-back guarantee.

Notifia

Notifia integrates with more than 30 marketing tools, plugins and pop-ups to help you convert potential customers and more.

Its social proof notifications feature customized text, designs, images, page targeting, time delay and more. Notifia even offers personalization where you can include a visitor’s first name, company and/or location to better connect and engage with that visitor.

Pricing

Plans for Notifia start at $9 per month.

Once you’ve enhanced your social proof using one of the above tools that fits your website and business needs best, consider leveling up your digital marketing with DailyStory. Features include automations, dynamic audience segmentations and more. Schedule your free demo with us today.

What is social proof? And 9 ways to use it in your digital marketing

When digging deeper into the idea of “social proof,” just remember that humans are definitely pack animals.

Psychologically speaking, humans want to fit in with the rest of the crowd, and this can affect us in many ways, particularly our consumer behavior.

Social proof refers to potential customers assuming that what others are doing is correct based on how often they see those actions. In other words, social proof is about looking to others to figure out the right way to interact in any given situation.

Businesses can leverage positive social proof to influence consumer behavior and generate more sales.

About 91 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds trust online social proof reviews as much as recommendations from someone close to them, while 63 percent of consumers indicated they are more likely to purchase from a website with product ratings and reviews.

Of course, social proof is even more powerful when it comes from someone the potential customer knows. About 82 percent of Americans say they seek recommendations from friends and family before making a purchase.

The following are nine ways you can use social proof across your digital marketing channels to persuade potential customers and grow your sales.

Highlighting positive reviews

Online reviews might be the first thing you think of when it comes to social proof. You’re definitely not wrong.

Consider Yelp. Are you more likely to try the restaurant with a lot of five-star reviews or the one with none? About 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and consumers often check at least two or three review sites before making a decision about a business.

Be the business they want to try, not the one they want to avoid.

You can do this by paying attention to more than just one review site. In other words, if you’re only focused on Yelp, you’re missing key opportunities. Google, FourSquare, even Facebook are all platforms where reviews can be made and viewed publicly about your business.

Then, highlight any relevant five-star reviews on your website, landing page or even some social media posts, depending. The more you share, the better! Don’t be shy.

To help boost your share of positive reviews, don’t be afraid to ask your customers for a review on their favorite site. This can be done with follow-up emails, signs posted in your business or even links shared on your social media. Keep your ask simple: “Support our small business by sharing your experience with us on Yelp” or whatever review site, for example.

Engaging with negative reviews

Granted, we can’t assume that all reviews will be positive. When encountering a negative review, read it thoroughly and respond. Yes, respond. Do not ignore. Acknowledge the issues or problem your reviewer encountered with your business (no matter how relevant or not). And offer a solution to his or her problem. This can be a gift card, discount or other incentive to come back and give you another shot. And this offer does not have to be worked out in a public back-and-forth. At the right time, you can say that you’ll message them directly to further resolve the problem. But it’s the initial engagement publicly that can help save a negative review from completely preventing a potential customer from considering your business. 

The better you engage with the negative review, the better you will look in the eyes of others. In fact, about 89 percent of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews in general.

Make sure you know about these eight types of negative SEO while you’re at it.

Sharing customer testimonials

It’s one thing for you to say that your brand is the best. It’s something entirely different when people outside of your brand say that you’re the best.

About 92 percent of consumers are more likely to trust non-paid recommendations than any other type of advertising.

Testimonials are positive experiences and/or anecdotes from customers who have used your product or service. They help establish credibility for your brand.

Be sure to regularly solicit happy customers for testimonials that you can update your website with and/or share in social media posts. Encourage them to be specific about the product or service they used, the problem it helped them solve and even how they felt before they came to you and after.

You can make the process even easier by including a Google Form (or another embedded form on your website). 

Partnering with celebrities, influencers

Influencer marketing has only been growing in recent years, and it’s easy to see why, especially when considering social proof. Consumers clearly trust public opinion more than brands themselves, so the word of people with influence falls into that category as well.

In fact, content from influencers generates more than 8 times the engagement rate of content shared directly by brands.

The key is that you identify an influencer who is relevant to your industry and jives with your brand.

Dig into these seven tips you should know before starting your first influencer marketing campaign.

Onboarding brand ambassadors

Similar to influencers, you can recruit brand ambassadors, which are essentially brand evangelists and loyalists who will promote your brand to their networks. Brand ambassadors can range between average people who love your company to micro-influencers with some clout online.

This type of program can be managed in a range of ways, where you can offer anything from commission to discounts to branded swag.

The appeal here is that brand ambassadors can humanize your brand even further. Just remember that brand ambassadors can be an easy avenue of getting more user-generated content (UGC) that features or includes your product out on various online channels. UGC can definitely play into social proof by piquing the interest of the potential customers it reaches.

Growing your social media following

First things first, we don’t want you to fall into a rabbit hole of obsession with growing your followers on social media. It’s just not the ultimate measure of success that some brands think it is. 

However, it’s important to keep in mind that the size of your following can be a type of social proof. It’s that herd mentality again. When a consumer sees a large number of people doing (or following) something, they’re more likely to try it, too.

Resist the temptation to buy a ton of fake followers. This practice will never serve you in the long run. Social media success thrives on authenticity, and creating the illusion of social proof is exactly the opposite. Focus, instead, on sharing engaging content and building a genuine social media following.

Leveraging your customer count

If you have an established customer base, it’s worth considering leveraging those numbers as social proof. Whether it’s customers, subscribers or any other type of consumer who is using your product or service, sharing that will help show that your brand is valuable and trusted.

Think about how McDonald’s says “Over 9 billion served” on its signs. But this can be done on your website and/or social media profiles as well.

Keep in mind that you don’t want to simply boast about your numbers. Make it an invitation: “Join our 500,000 satisfied customers,” for example. It gives a feeling of belonging to consumers.

A slightly different angle on this front is leveraging any of the big-name customers you might have. You can do this by highlighting their logos on your website. Just make sure that you’re highlighting the brands that your audience will recognize.

Showcasing any awards, recognition

Awards and recognition aren’t just great types of social proof, they also act as evidence that your brand is, in fact, trustworthy. There’s a validation there because they come from a third party. 

Beyond just listing awards your brand has won, you can use award logos embedded on your website and even feature the logos of websites your brand has been mentioned on.

Again, it lends to your credibility.

Creating a blog

Before you think, “Not another blog,” remember that blogs are a great way to establish your brand as a thought leader in your industry.

The idea is to offer potential customers with insightful, problem-solving and actionable content. Tying this content into your products or services is great, but keep that approach in balance.

Showcasing your value to your audience is more important than getting yet another sales plug in. In the end, you’re ultimately creating and sharing content to build up your trustworthiness in the eyes of potential customers. It’s less about the hard sale.

Check out these seven tips to level up your content marketing.

Be aware of social shares

Adding social media share buttons next to various content on your website can sound like a great type of social proof. And it can be.

But if your social shares are typically low, this can actually backfire on you.

Website visitors seeing only a handful of shares can give them the impression that your content isn’t very valuable.

So, before using this approach, do an audit on your average amount of social shares. If it’s typically a high number, then the social share buttons are worth including to boost your social proof.

While you’re boosting your social proof, consider improving your digital marketing process with DailyStory. Features include automation and dynamic audience segmentation. Schedule your free demo with us today.