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5 Tips For Writing a Response to a Negative Review


The best possible outcome for a negative review is to see it before it’s posted, and have the opportunity to turn the situation around. But, despite your best efforts, sometimes the situation can’t be rectified. At that point, a response to a negative review is in order. But how do you write an appropriate response? These five tips should help you:

The key is falling back on the Persuasive Writing techniques you may have learned in a professional writing class.

  • Respond: So many negative reviews go unanswered. Each one is an opportunity lost. DealerRater is like any other form of social media, where interaction is key. By letting the situations go unanswered, potential customers think you don’t care.
  • Acknowledge and apologize when necessary: Acknowledge that the customer expectation wasn’t met in a personalized response. Be sure to thank them for their time in writing the review and apologize when necessary.  Remember who your “real” audience is when responding — the next person reading the review (a.k.a., your potential customer).
  • Use active voice: The best example of active versus passive voice is the difference between “We made a mistake” and “Mistakes were made.” The first example owns the responsibility. Presidential speechwriter William Safire has defined the second as “[a] passive-evasive way of acknowledging error while distancing the speaker from responsibility for it.” Make a habit of using the active voice when writing professionally.
  • Use personal pronouns:  A lot of responses to negative reviews refer to “the customer.” If you’re responding, it’s generally a good idea to respond personally, using personal pronouns like “you”. Referring to “the customer” sounds cold and impersonal, and gives the impression that you’re not interested in responding to the situation directly.
  • Be specific: It takes time and effort to actually research what happened to make a customer’s experience a negative one, but figuring it out and responding with specific information about the incident is always appreciated when reading a response.

Responses like this make your online presence as real and human as your appearance in person.