If you own a business — especially one centered around customer service — the thought of a negative review popping up on Facebook or Google likely makes you cringe or get a pit in your stomach. Let’s take a moment to discuss the types of reviewers and negative reviews that exist, how to prevent them, and how to manage and respond to them should they occur. We’ll show you the way to respond to negative reviews!
Benefits of responding to negative reviews
If a potential new member begins to explore the internet for more information about your facility, a strong likelihood exists that checking reviews will be part of this process. The worst possible impression that could be made is numerous bad reviews with no owner response. The better case scenario is fewer bad reviews with an owner response attempting to correct the situation. Many researchers will find this sufficient enough to continue exploring the possibility of becoming a member of your gym or studio by simply seeing that the business cares.
Another benefit of responding is that you may actually be able to resolve the member’s concern, and they will feel pleased enough with the outcome to remove or edit their review. Also by responding publicly, you earn a few SEO brownie points, which can help your overall online visibility.
Types of reviewers at fitness studios
Every review should be handled delicately and differently. No two reviews are alike. But to gain a little perspective on the most common different types of reviewers, we’ve broken them down into a few categories.
The first time reviewer
Only 63% of consumers have left a business review of some kind, so there are still plenty of newbies that will be taking to the internet for the first time to describe their experience. If you get a review from a first-timer, that usually means you either did something really right or really wrong. Your public response should be carefully crafted here for other readers. Explain how you have rectified any issues in your reply, and attempt to contact the person to right the wrong.
The habitual complainer
This type of reviewer likely has unrealistic expectations and voices them through numerous negative reviews on nearly every business they visit. Your response to this type of complainer should be succinct but apologetic. Chances are you are not going to be able to make this reviewer happy, but you don’t want to strike up an online argument with them either so keep it short.
This type of reviewer paints a whole picture from their perspective. This kind of review can actually be very helpful for you and your team, as it shows details of how things have played out from a consumer vantage point. If the story is critical, don’t be tempted to match their tone or length when responding. Carefully craft your response to address any concerns and how they will be rectified for the next customer.
The direct communicator
A reviewer who wants to send a message to management about their experience is likely the type that will give you a chance to fix the situation. Take this opportunity to reply and offer a remedy. Be polite, and be direct.
The formula for Responding to Negative Reviews
Put yourself in their shoes, and empathize.
Simply feeling understood and noticed goes a long way in addressing any member concerns.
Take ownership of the issues by offering an apology, not an excuse. Remind them that you appreciate their business. Remind this person, as well as other readers, that you take value in your members.
Evaluate the level of concern, and offer to correct the situation.
Go above and beyond. If there is a billing issue, cancellation concern, or something that can be immediately remedied, take the next step to get to the bottom of the issue and let them know you are addressing it.
Ask them to contact you.
You should always offer to speak with the person directly regarding their concerns. You may get a chance to win them over on the phone since it is much harder to be harsh with direct human interaction versus behind a keyboard. If you do get to speak with the person, be patient, kind, and listen before offering a solution. Remember, reviewers want to be heard.
Learn from the review, and get better.
This may be the most important step! Every review is a chance to improve. Share both positive and negative reviews with your staff in team meetings, and decide together how to use any negative feedback to get better.
Example of a Bad Review and Response
The following example shows a bad review, and the above steps in action.
Local Guide · 13 reviews
2 months ago
Not enough gym wipes, no paper towels in the bathroom. Went to tell a staff member, and couldn’t find anyone.
Message from the Owner:
Thank you so much for taking the time to provide this feedback. I can understand how frustrating it must have been to not find paper towels or a staff member to help. We appreciate your business, and strive to make sure all of our members have great experiences. I have reviewed our policies with the team at this location to ensure paper products are stocked regularly, and someone is always available at the front desk. Please feel free to contact management directly at 888-555-1234 so we can ensure your issues have been resolved. Thank you for your business.
Create Positive Experiences
The truth is that bad reviews are bound to happen in any business. Be proactive and create as many raving fans as possible through excellent experiences! Majority positive reviews will usually outshine a few bad ones. You can do this through thorough and ongoing team training, great systems and policies, a clean facility, and an awesome billing software company. If negative reviews do arise, address them as best you can, learn from them, and move on.