Online reviews can be extremely beneficial for your childcare center or preschool. Studies show that 93% of customers use online reviews to determine the quality of a local business, and parents are no different. Many families conduct the majority of their research on the web when choosing childcare and preschool options.
But what should you do when your program receives a negative review? Here’s some encouraging news—a Harvard Business Review study found that when businesses respond to customer reviews, both good and bad, they receive 12% more ratings and their overall ratings actually improve. When people notice that a business responds to reviews, they’re less likely to leave trivial negative feedback. Moreover, responding to negative reviews gives businesses the chance to make things right with the disappointed reviewer, and it shows potential customers that they take feedback seriously and value the people they serve.
In this article, you’ll learn how to respond to negative reviews so you can mend your relationship with reviewers and build trust with prospective families researching your program online.
How to create your business profile on Google, Yelp, and Facebook
First things first—if you haven’t set up business pages for your childcare center or preschool yet, it’s easy to get started! Once you activate your business pages, you’ll be able to monitor reviews coming in and respond professionally as your business instead of from your personal account.
Here’s how to claim your business pages on Google, Yelp, and Facebook, three of the most popular sites that prospective families will use to learn about your center.
- 1. Go to Google My Business.
- 2. Sign in to your Google Account, or create one if you don’t have one yet. Sign up with your business email domain.
- 3. Enter your business’s address.
- 4. Choose how your business will display on Google Maps by entering your business address again and pressing next.
- 5. Search for and select a business category.
- 6. Enter your business phone number or website URL.
- 7. Select a verification option. Don’t forget to review your information to make sure everything is correct before you request verification!
Once you verify your business, your business information will be eligible to display across Google. For more detailed instructions, you can visit Google My Business Help.
- 1. Go to Yelp for Business. Find your business by typing in your zip code and business name. If you don’t see your business, click “Add Now” and fill out your business information.
- 2. Create a free business user account by entering an email address and password. It’s recommended to use your business email address so you can easily stay updated with what’s happening with your Yelp page.
- 3. Verify your account by entering your verification code. You’ll get an email or call to the number listed on your page.
You’ll be notified once your business page is verified, which can take a few business days. For more detailed information, visit Yelp’s blog.
- 1. Log in to your personal Facebook account to start. Don’t worry—the information from your personal account won’t be visible to others on your business page!
- 2. Go to Facebook’s Create a Page and select the “Business or Brand” page, then add your business information. To choose a category, start typing words that best describe your business, and Facebook will suggest some options. If your program falls into more than one category, such as both childcare and preschool, you’ll be able to add more categories later.
- 3. When you’ve chosen your category, Facebook will ask you for a few more details, such as your address and phone number.
- 4. Upload your profile photo and cover image for your business page. Make sure to choose photos that are high-quality and show the best your program has to offer.
- 5. Click “Create Page Username” in the left menu to set up the URL you will use to share your page with other people. Use your business name for your username so it’s intuitive and easy to remember!
- 6. Fill out the remaining important details on your business page, such as Description, Categories (here’s where you can add additional categories that describe your services), Contact, Location, and Hours.
For more instructions and tips on how to make the most of your new page, check out the Facebook for Business info page.
Now, let’s dive into how to respond to negative reviews about your childcare or preschool business!
Take a deep breath and stay calm
When you receive a negative review about your childcare center or preschool, it’s natural to feel disappointed and even defensive at first. However, it’s important to remember that a few bad reviews won’t ruin your program. In fact, 45% of customers say they’re more likely to use a business that responds to negative reviews than they would a business that doesn’t. This means that when you respond to a bad review, you have the chance to show browsing parents how much you care about providing the best possible experience for the families you serve.
If you’re tempted to feel bad about yourself after receiving a negative review, take a moment to take a deep breath and re-center yourself too. No matter how amazing your center is, it’s impossible to make every person happy. While you can’t control what people say about your program, you can control how you respond, so make sure you are calm and won’t write something you may regret later.
Respond to negative reviews as quickly as possible
Once you’ve had a chance to clear your head, try to reply to the negative review as quickly as you can. Surveys reveal that 86% of customers who complain expect a response from the business within 3 days. By responding as soon as possible, you can prevent the situation from escalating and lower the number of prospective families who see an unanswered negative review about your program.
As a best practice, set aside 10 minutes to address negative reviews once you learn about them. If you wait too long to respond, people may think that you don’t care about their input, and your response may come off as inauthentic. Many sites such as Yelp also include date stamps on their reviews, so both the reviewer and prospective families can see how long it took for you to respond. As a director, your schedule is undoubtedly packed, but it’s well worth your time to take a few minutes to respond to negative reviews!
Personalize your response and acknowledge the reviewer’s specific concerns
When replying to a negative review, one of your top priorities should be making sure the upset parent or family member feels heard and taken seriously. Here are practical ways you can personalize your message and communicate that you understand why they’re unhappy:
- Use the reviewer’s name so they know you’re addressing them directly and not copying and pasting a generic response.
- Share your name and your role at your program to help establish a person-to-person connection.
- Thank them for taking the time and the effort to share their experience. This will start your message on a positive note and show them (and prospective families) that you’re able to receive feedback graciously.
- Rephrase the reviewer’s concerns in your own words. This communicates that you’re paying attention to their situation and that you intend to solve their problem rather than sweeping it under the rug.
By using these simple elements in your response, you’ll validate where the reviewer is coming from and help to rebuild trust between you and the parents involved.
Express empathy and apologize to the reviewer
Even though you may not agree with the unhappy parent’s perspective, you can’t discount how they felt. Try your best to put yourself in their shoes, and imagine how you would feel if it was you and your child in the same situation. In cases like these, a little empathy can go a long way.
It’s also best to apologize for their negative experience with your program. There are ways to say sorry that don’t support their critiques of your center, such as, “I’m sorry to hear about your experience.” Apologizing will show parents you’re truly listening and that you actively want to mend the relationship.
Use your response to highlight your program’s standards
Use your response to clarify what your childcare center or preschool’s usual standards are, especially if the negative review criticizes things that are usually strengths of your program. This will also emphasize to both the reviewer and prospective families that this bad experience was the exception (and not the norm) at your center.
Do this by briefly mentioning your program’s policies or how you usually operate in similar situations. Don’t write something too long that will invalidate the parent’s experience; instead, write no more than a sentence highlighting your program’s standards, and reiterate that you are taking their feedback seriously.
Offer to move the conversation offline
Responding to a negative review is a great starting point, but it’s usually not enough to completely resolve an issue with an upset parent or family member. End your written response by offering to continue the conversation offline. If the parent takes you up on the opportunity, invite them to an in-person meeting, video call, or phone call where they can share constructive feedback and you can work on solving the problem together.
There are a couple of benefits to moving the discussion offline. First, you have the opportunity to truly mend the relationship during a back-and-forth conversation, especially when both parties can hear the other person’s tone of voice and see their body language. If you’re able to come to a resolution together, ask the reviewer if they’d consider deleting their negative review. By inviting further dialogue in your review response, you’ll also show prospective parents that you prioritize your families and value finding solutions together.
Template for responding to negative reviews
Here’s a template you can use to respond to negative reviews about your childcare center or preschool. Make sure to personalize the details so reviewers know you’re listening and understand their specific concerns.
Hi [Parent’s Name],
My name is [Your Name] and I’m the [Your Title] at [Your Program’s Name]. Thank you for sharing your feedback with us.
I understand that [rephrase the parent’s concern]. I’m truly sorry to hear about your experience. At [Your Program’s Name], we really value [your program’s standards], and we regret that we didn’t meet your expectations this time around.
I’d love to continue this conversation. Please reach out to me at [your email address] or [your phone number] so we can further discuss this issue. We always strive to put our students and families first, and I’m looking forward to finding a resolution together.
Responding to negative reviews can be a stressful part of running a business, but we hope this article makes the process a little easier for you moving forward. At brightwheel, we know you work incredibly hard to care for your students and families. We appreciate you and are so honored to partner with this amazing community!
To learn more about how online reviews can benefit your program, check out our blog post, How to Ask Families for Online Reviews for your Childcare Center!
Brightwheel is the complete solution for early education providers, enabling you to streamline your center’s operations and build a stand-out reputation. Brightwheel connects the most critical aspects of running your center—including sign in and out, parent communications, tuition billing, and licensing and compliance—in one easy-to-use tool, along with providing best-in-class customer support and coaching. Brightwheel is trusted by thousands of early education centers and millions of parents. Learn more at mybrightwheel.com.