How to Deal with Negative Online Reviews

Coleen Sterns Leith smartPRENEUR Blog Series

Most people understand that you can’t always be perfect.

You work hard to run your business!

You work hard to run your business and always try to do the right thing, yet that challenging customer decided to go online and speak badly about your company and team. Don’t fret. There are a few things you can do to mitigate the occasional bad review.

Most people understand that you can’t always be perfect. If they see one or two questionable reviews out of 38 five-star reviews, and you respond appropriately, readers understand that you can’t always please everyone. How you respond is key to that understanding. 

First, be sure to address the issue as soon as possible. Respond to the review with an acknowledgement of the issue and let the negative poster know what actions you will take to resolve the issue. A well written personal response calms the angriest of customers and this is your opportunity to build trust with them. 

You want to take the issue discussion offline as soon as possible so that future review readers won’t have to see the details of the conversation. You should be able to solve the issue of the angry/upset client during a phone call and subsequent follow up. In many cases, the negative reviewer will then remove the review. If they don’t, add a closing post to the review saying you are glad that the issue is now resolved. This lets future readers know you are responsive to customer needs.  

Be sure you or someone on your team is checking social media, Nextdoor, Houzz, Google Business, Yelp and other local social outlets to see what your online reputation is. Being proactive will allow you to address potential issues before they become a major problem across multiple online outlets. It’s also helpful if you have pre-written response guidelines prepared for a positive, neutral and negative review. With a plan in place, you can mitigate an upset client before it becomes a problem.  

If you do receive neutral or negative reviews, use that feedback from those customers to update your policies and procedures to ensure you are delighting all your customers. Even that ugly review can easily be buried with many glowing reviews above it.