7 Step Negative Review Toolkit
Can you remember a time where a poor rating or negative reviews influenced you not to buy from a particular business? In 2021, just 3% of consumers said they would consider engaging with a business with an average star rating of two or fewer stars. That's down from 14% in 2020 (BrightLocal, 2022).
Fortunately, like issues raised in-person, negative online reviews don’t have to result in lost business.
Each business faces negative reviews at one point or another, so know that you’re not alone.
The secret is keeping a cool head and taking a proactive approach to poor reviews; with a little forward thinking you can turn them into an opportunity to attract new residents and build positive relationships with current ones.
Here are 7 steps you can take to effectively manage negative online reviews.
1. Keep Track of Review Platforms
If you’ve taken a deep-dive into the digital world, it’s likely that your residence has profiles on a variety of different platforms—many of which host reviews. These can be places like your Facebook Page, Google Listing or another third-party site like Yelp or Cared Upon.
While it may seem easier to keep track of reviews by only having them on one specific platform, by disabling them in other places it can give the impression that you’re hiding something about your residence. This can erode the trust you hoped to build with potential clients and keep them from getting the information they need to make an informed decision about their senior living options.
In general, online reviews are a perfect opportunity for you to establish communication with your residents and their loved ones, building stronger relationships with them overall.
Finding and reacting to negative online reviews is an important way to help protect your reputation and make progress toward a solution—of course, the sooner, the better!
Prioritize Keeping Your Business Profiles Updated
No matter where they are on the internet, keeping your listings active with relevant information presents you with the opportunity to:
- See the latest reviews as soon as they are posted
- Respond promptly to direct inquiries from prospective clients
- Track and measure the overall success of your digital strategy
2. Respond to Negative Reviews
57% say they would be 'not very' or 'not at all' likely to use a business that doesn't respond to reviews at all (BrightLocal, 2022).
Leaving negative feedback unanswered—even if it’s only by accident, can reflect poorly on your business. Not addressing negative reviews promptly can incentivize prospective residents to continue their search, rather than engage with your residence.
You can significantly reduce a disgruntled reviewer’s initial frustration by letting them know, as soon as possible, that you received and appreciate their feedback.
When you don’t yet have the full story, your initial response could be along the lines of:
“We’re so sorry for your experience, we are looking into what happened and will get back to you as soon as we have more details”.
80% of reviewers would be ‘highly likely’ or ‘likely’ to leave a review if their initial negative experience was turned into a positive one (BrightLocal, 2022).
Even when a client doesn’t follow up, it’s important that you do. Especially on places like Google or Facebook. Other prospective clients or their loved ones may come across the review and wonder what happened with the issue. Without a conclusion, onlookers may think you did nothing to resolve the problem.
It’s important to realize that you’re not only writing to respond to the negative reviewer– you’re writing for everyone who might see it.
3. Maintain a Polite Tone
More consumers are reading online reviews than ever before. In 2021, 77% 'always' or 'regularly' read them when browsing for local businesses (up from 60% in 2020). (Brightlocal, 2022).
Prospective residents and their loved ones search online to gather experiences from other people to help them make their senior living decisions. Many will visit your site, Facebook page or search for your company’s reviews on Google, but you’ll never get to hear from them. What they see can have a significant impact on whether they choose to stay with your residence.
When responding to a poor review, never argue or accuse the reviewer of being wrong, even if you know that they are. Perhaps the negative review was written by an angry ex-employee or a rival competitor.
It doesn’t matter. While you know the full story of who or why someone left you a negative or dishonest review, people who are coming across your residence for the first time don’t.
Anything other than polite, calm responses will come off as disrespectful, even if that was not your intention. Prospective residents or their loved ones won’t think of you as “passionate” or “standing your ground”. Instead, they may think that if you got angry at someone for raising a concern, they’ll have a similar experience with you, too.
Prepare Responses in Advance
When you’re feeling frustrated by a negative review, it may be difficult for you to set your emotions aside to write out a well-articulated response. Drafting responses ahead of time can help you respond more quickly, and in a way that will help lead to a resolution rather than an online argument.
While the details will change depending on the situation, having a framework to build from can streamline the review process.
We’ve included a sample response below:
We're deeply sorry for your experience. Your feedback is valuable, and we’re committed to finding a resolution to your concern. We pride ourselves in providing great resident care and we hope to do the same for you/your loved one in the future.
Please consider reaching out to us directly at [phone] or [email] so we can better address the situation.
[name, company] "
Responding publicly helps potential clients who come across the exchange see that you have acknowledged the review and are actively working to resolve the situation. These responses help to build your reputation, by assuring future residents that you’re open to and act on the feedback your residence receives.
4. Explain the Situation (When Appropriate)
When responding publicly to a negative review, it’s worthwhile to consider your response from the perspective of a person who has no knowledge of the situation.
Would they be able to understand what happened just by looking at the conversation?
While this isn’t always appropriate, there are times when circumstances outside of you or care staff’s control can brew the perfect storm for a bad client experience. Perhaps there was an unexpected power outage, or an unavoidable event cancellation—these may be relevant details to support your explanation.
However, it’s imperative that you also address how your residence has taken care to prevent a repeat of the situation in the future.
5. Archive and Analyze Negative Reviews
When you have all your residence’s negative reviews in one place, you’ll be able to identify recurring issues, or see specific patterns that lead to these reviews being posted.
It’s important to realize just how valuable these critical reviews are—they’re a rich source of client feedback. Taking time to collect, store and analyze these reviews helps you base the decisions you make for your business on real client data.
6. Commit to Making Changes to Your Business
If you’ve received more than one negative review about a particular aspect of your senior living residence, it’s time to investigate and likely make some permanent changes.
For example, if you’ve received one or more negative reviews about your meal service, getting in touch with your kitchen staff, servers and nutritionists will give you a sense of whether the issues were isolated incidents or regular occurrences.
From there, you’ll be able to make meaningful changes to your services to improve your residence and client satisfaction, while keeping negative future reviews at bay.
7. Rebuild Your Reputation by Creating a Bank of Positive Reviews
Often, the best way to offset the impact of negative reviews is to have even more positive ones. Since the majority of your reviews will live online, the antidote to your future residents or their loved ones getting a bad first impression is to have reviews from existing clients who have had wonderful experiences in your care.
Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews! Research shows that more than half (53%) of clients are ‘likely’ or ‘highly likely’ to leave a review when asked by a staff member (BrightLocal, 2022).
The reality is that even when you’ve made a mistake, many prospective residents and their loved ones will give you the benefit of the doubt if they see that your residence has addressed concerns in a respectful and timely way.