How to deal with a bad review online

Bad Reviews Happen.

There’s nothing worse than an unhappy customer.

You’ve worked hard to build your website, run your business in a way you think is wonderful, you strive very hard to keep your customers happy and coming back.

But, inevitably, someone somewhere is unhappy and they leave a dreaded negative review online.

Whether it’s Facebook, Google Business, Twitter, or Yelp, how do you handle it?

Step Back, Keep Calm

The first (and best) thing you can do is take a moment to reflect. Step away from your screen and don’t reply impulsively.

As much as you want to respond and offer your view on the situation, don’t. Not right away.

When you’re upset over something — like a bad review — you’re more likely to say something you’ll regret. And most online systems won’t let you edit or delete your response once it’s published.

Take an hour, a day, a couple of days to really ingest what the bad review says before starting to draft your reply.

Respond in a timely manner

Once you’ve cleared your head, start working on a response. I’m a firm believer that you should respond to every review whether they’re negative or positive and no matter what medium they come through.

Be concise, but thorough. If you’re a small business, chances are you know who the bad review came from. This’ll let you do some research about the project and talk to the folks on your team who may have worked with the customer who’s unhappy.

Your response should be timely, thorough, and non-defensive.

I know, I know. Sometimes it’s really hard to not call someone out if they’re wrong. But as a business owner, you want to keep a level head and, as my wife always says, “be the bigger person”.

It's not personal

Remember, the review isn’t personal. They’re not attacking you, as a person, even though it might feel that way sometimes.

It’s ok to admit fault if you or a representative of your company actually did something wrong. Own up to your mistakes and do your best to learn from those mistakes.

Future tech-savvy customers will look at your online reviews before doing business with you, so make sure you’re honest in your responses. Keep to the facts, too.

Spell check. Gramma check. Proofread.

Before posting your reply, read it a few times, out loud, even.

It should be free of grammatical and spelling errors. The more professional the response looks, the better for your future business.

If you’re not the best writer, check out Grammarly. It’s a plugin for your browser that checks your spelling and grammar as you type and is an amazing tool.

Fix the problem

The last thing you should do, after you respond, is reaching out to the customer.

They know you know who they are, and they probably wrote the bad review as a last resort to get your attention to something they want to be rectified.

At this point, you should reach out to them privately — either by phone or email — and work to resolve whatever they’re unhappy with.

You’ll likely surprise them by doing so and perhaps you’ll win over an otherwise unhappy customer. As the business owner, you’ve got the ability to go above and beyond to resolve the situation, so do it. Use your power to turn the situation around.

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