How NOT to Respond To Negative Reviews

Responding to negative reviews online.

As a funeral home, it’s important that you encourage your clients to review your services online. We recommend review incentives, Facebook profiles, and updated Google photos & hours. However, this wonderful internet tool also provides an anonymous platform for ranting and raving and disgruntled, complain-y curmudgeons. We have to accept this darker side of the internet if we are expecting to benefit from the marketing side of the internet!

Even the best funeral homes with the most renowned customer service will get some bad reviews online occasionally. This purpose of this post is to prevent you from falling into the trap that many companies fall into: responding to negative reviews inappropriately. So we’ve done some browsing and put together a few examples of how to NOT respond to negative reviews.

#1 Make excuses.

It’s very tempting to respond to a complaint by explaining what should have happened or how they misinterpreted something. Here’s a classic example of a bad response to a bad review:

April reviewed Some Funeral Home on January 15th: “I am very disappointed with this funeral home. We had my sister’s wake there and the viewing was supposed to start at 3 but the casket wasn’t available for presentation until 3:30. It was awkward and unclear where the family was supposed to stand, and then we were told that people were waiting for a reception line in a certain place, but no one told us what to do.”

Some Funeral Home replied: “Hi April, we’re sorry you had this experience at your sister’s wake. We looked into what happened, and we had the viewing scheduled to start at 3:30pm on January 13th in our Lavender Living Room. The receiving line works best outside in the hall, which is where we always tell families to stand. Perhaps there was miscommunication within the family ranks?”

When this reply is read, it’s obvious that the writer wants to explain away the perceived problem, taking no responsibility himself. Even if everything in the response is true and accurate, explaining what happened sounds like making excuses on the internet. Avoid it!

#2 Compare experiences.

You plan funerals probably every day of the week, and you’ve gotten the formula down to a science. But when a customer thinks something went wrong, it can be hard to accept their perspective.

Eli reviewed Some Funeral Home on July 1st: “My grandmother’s memorial service was a mess! We requested yellow and orange flowers and sent in about 100 pictures to be displayed, and when we got there early the day of, nothing was ready. The flowers were wrong, the pictures and frames were in boxes in the back room, and the body was in the wrong shoes. It was a nightmare.”

Some Funeral Home replied: Thank you for the feedback. This is the first complaint we have had about the appearance of our memorial service. In fact, our interior advisor, Martha Loren, is the highest rated decorator in the state. With specific requests there is a deadline in the planning process, and we’d love to refer you to a few of our past reviews that positively explain how these request are supposed to be submitted and how well they are filled when made correctly.  

Even though the writer of this response is trying to show that the problems that occurred were not the fault of the funeral home, comparing this experience with previous reviews of the decorator or funeral home itself comes off as simpering and fake. Be aware of how your response will be perceived before you post it!

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