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When You Don’t Respond to an Online Review, You’re Really Saying a Lot

As part of a college job, I worked a customer service desk at a grocery store. When shoppers had a complaint, they came to us, and we worked to find solutions. Unsatisfied customers had other options when it came to buying food, so we took our role seriously. Being responsive, actively listening and showing we cared was half the battle.

In those days, online reviews were nonexistent. If a customer had a concern, they called or came into the store. Our approach, however, lends itself to an important element of customer care in today’s increasingly digital world. If we didn’t give each consumer the attention they felt they deserved, we risked losing business. The same can be said for those who today choose to air their grievances online.

Negative reviews are frustrating, to say the least. Often, the reviewer’s side of the story differs from our own. It’s tempting, since we aren’t speaking with them face-to-face, to ignore the negative feedback, hoping the positive reviews will outweigh the words of the unsatisfied customer.

Imagine treating an in-person situation in such a way. We’d never walk away or refuse to engage with an unhappy individual if they stood directly in front of us. As uncomfortable as the situation might be, we’d work to find a solution. Why, then, would we treat online criticism differently? The truth is, we shouldn’t.

Data shows consumers who see a response to a negative review are much more likely to view the business in a positive way than those who see no response. Responding also improves SEO. It makes sense if you think about it, but many businesses still don’t practice this simple tactic.

When you receive negative online feedback, here are some appropriate ways to respond:

  1. Take the “I see you, I hear you” approach. Consumers want to feel validated in their concerns. It’s fine to share your viewpoint on the situation, but be sure to speak to the customer, not at
  2. When possible, refer the conversation to an offline forum. Reviews sometimes touch on situations that involve privacy or are better discussed in greater detail. It’s OK to provide a phone number or suggest scheduling an in-person meeting.
  3. Many senior living complaints involve perceived treatment of either residents or associates. Stating your community’s commitment to providing a positive work environment and exceptional senior living options is a proven and important strategy.
  4. If a negative review is inappropriate, uses hurtful language or you believe violates standards for an online forum, it’s a good idea to flag the review for removal before crafting a response. These reviews, due to their tone, often speak for themselves.

The most important takeaway to remember is that when you don’t respond to negative reviews, it’s the same as turning a blind eye or a deaf ear to a customer who’s standing right in front of you. You’d never ignore someone in your office or at the front desk. It would give them the impression that you don’t care. Likewise, when you ignore negative online reviews, you’re saying so much more than you may realize.

Learn more about community awareness and reputation management here.

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