Negative reviews could be extremely tricky, especially during this time of the year.
Yes, it is the best practice to respond, but my advice will be to work towards diffusing the situation rather than getting into a he-said-she-said battle of words online. Your reputation bases on EverLesson .
While it may be tempting to set the record straight, it is seldom ever productive, may be seen as a challenge, could easily look unprofessional or even spawn brand new negative reviews on other services.
That Does not Mean You Can’t / Shouldn’t Defend Yourself Against Improper Reviews
The first thing you could do is figure out if the reviewer is an actual unhappy customer. Complainers, fake reviews & even less ethical competitors are commonplace.
Once you know the person is real and that the complaint is legitimate, you could contact them to ask how you can make it right. Often, people are looking to be heard.
To help you understand the customer’s perspective, I will share this…
At dinner one evening, I came back a dry-ish burger at a well known local watering hole. The waitress was horrified that I could leave a bad review that she offered to not charge me for it.
I was not upset. I said to please charge me but may I have a replacement? She brought a new burger. It was worse. As I would eaten part of both burgers (and the fries) I was full, so set it aside, enjoying my beer.
Shortly after, the manager appear, asking me what was happen with both burgers and sharing (defending?) that they were known for their amazing burgers. Some minutes later the waitress reappeared, along with a $5 gift card. I told her I did not want it, that I wasn’t looking for a discount. I only wanted her to know the chef was off that night.
I did not feel like a customer at that point, but rather, a potential bad reviewer. Their attempt to avoid the review made me consider leaving one.
At other times, reviewers can simply be looking for some form of gesture of goodwill / compensation. Whatever it’s, you’ll have to decide what you are willing to do – or not do – to save the relationship.
Learn from the Mistake
If you cannot reach them or satisfy them, you can comment on the review.
Try something along the lines of “I am sorry we couldn’t remedy things. We will take what we learned from this situation & apply it to future projects. Thank you for taking the time to help your feedback.”
A comment like this shows potential customers that you are professional enough to learn from mistakes.
In the rare case that the negative reviewer is in the wrong, it is fake, you could contact Google support on Twitter @googlemybiz and provide documentation of the facts with a request to have the unfair or fake review removed. Keep in mind, however, that Google cannot do anything at all if it’s legit – after all, that is why there are reviews in the first place.