Last Updated: October 2, 2023 • Visit Blog Homepage

It's safe to say that your dog daycare and kennel has a majority of positive reviews on Google, right? (If you haven't added your business to Google Maps, get started here.)

However, it's eventually going to happen in the future, if it hasn't already happened; someone's going to leave a negative review on your business's Google Reviews page. It's just part of running a business. However, dealing with those reviews is what separates the winners from the losers in this battle.

Dealing with negative customer reviews can be a challenge for any business, especially in the pet care industry where owners have an emotional attachment to their pets. Negative feedback can damage a business's reputation, which is why it's important to have a plan in place for handling such situations.

You might think it's best to forget about it and move on, but the opposite is actually true. The best thing you can do when you receive a negative review is to immediately reply to the client in a public setting and work on setting it straight (or explaining why you're right. More on that below).

According to a 2020 study by Harvard, businesses that respond to negative reviews see an average increase in ratings of 1.125 stars, which can help improve their reputation and overall customer satisfaction.

In this blog post, we'll go over 7 steps for dealing with negative customer reviews at your dog daycare and kennel. Let's dive right in!

Acknowledge the Feedback

The first step in dealing with negative feedback is acknowledging it. Responding to a negative review shows the client that left the review, as well as future customers, that you care about their experience and are willing to make improvements. If you don't reply to their feedback, others are going to see it as well. If you've ever been on a restaurant's reviews page, you can always tell those that reply right away and those that "hide" from replying. Which restaurant seems like a more standup establishment to you?

Investigate the Situation

Before responding to a negative review, take the time to investigate the situation. Gather as much information as you can about the situation in question, such as the date, time, and specific details mentioned in the review. If you have employees, try to figure out which employee was involved. You should never be surprised by a negative review though; make sure your employees feel comfortable enough to talk to you about a potential upcoming negative review (or even better, at the time the negative experience is happening (at pet pickup perhaps) so you can stop the review from ever being posted). If someone comes to pick up Fido after his groom and they're noticeably unhappy, try to get in front of that situation ASAP.

Respond Promptly

Respond to the negative review as soon as possible, within 24-48 hours is ideal. A prompt response shows that you are taking the review seriously and are dedicated to improving your business. Almost all review platforms have a feature that allow you to reply to a negative review. This is important because it gives business owners the chance to tell their side of the story. Some reviews are valid and some are just ridiculous. By replying, you can share your side of the story. If the review is justified, make sure that you say that in your reply. If the review is unjustified, I personally believe it's in your best interest to tell your side of the story so that other future customers can read about exactly what happened and make up their own mind. If you never reply, your future customers will only ever hear the "bad" side of the story.

Be Professional

It's important to remain professional and calm when responding to a negative review. Avoid becoming defensive or attacking the customer, as this will only make the situation worse. Instead, use a professional tone and show empathy for their experience. If their experience was truly bad, you'll want to make sure that they feel heard. You also don't want to lose their future business. Unless the review is truly outrageous, it's usually best to hold your tongue and try to calm the situation.

Offer a Solution

In your response, offer a solution to the situation. This could be an apology, a discount on future services, or a promise to make improvements to your business. If someone was unhappy with their dog boarding experience, you could offer them a free weekend in the future to make up for it. The same goes with a grooming gone bad. Offer to fix Fido's haircut at no cost and offer them a free groom in the future to make up for it. Better to lose the revenue of one groom than a lifetime of grooms. There are differing schools of thought on giving out discounts for bad reviews. On one hand, you want to alleviate the situation. However, on the other hand, you don't want to encourage other unscrupulous customers to leave bad reviews in order to get a discount. You can, as a business owner, always "fire" a customer too. If you have a customer that continually asks for discounts, maybe it's best to cut ties.

Follow Up

After responding to the negative review, follow up with the customer to see if their concerns have been addressed. This shows that you are dedicated to improving their experience and are willing to go the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction. As appealing as it might be to just send an email or a text, it's usually best to get on the phone and talk with the person. This shows you care and that you're not afraid to talk with them directly, instead of via digital means.

Learn from the Experience

Finally, take the time to learn from the experience. Use the feedback to make improvements to your business, whether it be changes to your customer service, training of staff, or policies. Have a sit-down with your staff and make sure that everyone knows what to do when they feel a negative review might be in the works. If they can tell a customer is upset, they should alert the owner or manager as soon as possible to try to alleviate the situation before the client feels the need to leave a review. Most people leave reviews when they disrespected by the business, so try to stop that situation before it even starts.

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