When Bad Reviews Come Knocking…

Well, it finally happened. The business that you built with your blood, sweat, and tears got a negative review. And what’s worse, it’s out there for the whole world to see.

The first thing you need to do is take a deep breath and relax. A bad review is not the end of the world, and it does not mean that your business is doomed.

No matter how careful you are and no matter what kind of business it is, sooner or later someone will write a bad review. And while this might seem like the end-all-be-all for your company’s success, it’s not all that bad. In fact, it is an opportunity to showcase your customer service, business values, and how much you care about the customer experience.

When reading through those negative comments – please take note: people will be looking for your response, and that response will be what helps them decide whether they want to work with you or not. So rather than ignoring them entirely (which isn’t an ideal solution, as that will only make you look bad), use them to your advantage by doing the following:

Acknowledge the review or mistake.

First and foremost, validate the concerns of the reviewer. This is more about the reader of your response than the person who left the bad review. By acknowledging that the reviewer did not get what they were looking for or that you made a mistake, you reassure your future customers that you care about their business and their satisfaction.

Respond calmly and professionally with an apology

Skip the emotional language, ALL CAPS TEXT, and the getting defensive. No amount of defensiveness is going to convince this writer that they are wrong and you are right. Take the high road and stay calm. Then, thank the customer for their feedback and let them know that you’re sorry they had a negative experience.  Even if it stings, the apology is important.

Highlight your business values:

Jump on this chance to explain to your reviewer (and anyone reading your response in the future) how this business interaction should have gone. If you make it clear what your standards and values are, it lets everyone reading the review know what they can expect from you and your company in the future.

Take the conversation offline:

If at all possible, invite the reviewer to take the conversation offline. This shows that you are willing to listen to feedback and work to resolve any issues that they may have had. It also prevents any further discussion that could be damaging to your reputation and will give you a chance to resolve the grievance in private.

Be careful not to offer freebies or discounts to remedy the situation publicly. You can absolutely have that conversation once you are speaking with the reviewer privately, but showing your hand in the review response can have negative consequences. You certainly don’t want people getting the idea that they will get something free from you if they post a public negative review.

Use it as an opportunity to improve your business:

Finally, use the negative review as an opportunity to improve your business. Take a look at what the customer was unhappy with and see if there’s anything you can do to change it. Maybe there’s a policy you need to change, or maybe you need to provide more training for your employees. Whatever it is, make sure you take action so that future customers don’t have the same negative experience.

When you respond to a negative review, you not only show that you care about your customers, but you also give yourself the opportunity to improve your business. So don’t ignore those negative reviews – use them to your advantage!

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