You Got a Bad Online Review, Now What?

by Mallory Scott, TSSA

No matter how tight you run your (business) ship or how diligent your employees are about providing excellent customer service, it’s almost inevitable that you will receive at least one bad review. There are eight simple steps you can take to effectively handle a negative review.

1. Don't Panic

This one is paramount. While your gut instinct may be to freak out a little bit, try your best to remain cool, calm and collected.

2. Stay Positive

It can be challenging to not take negative comments personally, but keeping your attitude in check is key when dealing with bad reviews.

3. Do Your Homework First

Take some time to objectively analyze the bad review. If there was a problem with a service or process, investigate it to ensure your business processes are functioning properly. If the review was customer service-related , interview the employee involved to understand their recollection of the encounter. No matter what the subject matter of the review, make sure the entire picture is clear before submitting a response.

4. Respond—I Repeat...Respond...Always

You may be tempted to avoid confrontation, but the absolute best approach is to submit a professional response to let that person (and any future prospective customers) know that you genuinely care about your business and your customers.

5. Show Empathy

The tone of your response matters immensely in conveying a sense of compassion to the reviewer. If you find that there was an error made on your side, then a sincere apology is a good place to start, however; don’t accept responsibility for something that was not your fault.

6. Take the High Road

Don’t point blame or point out their faults (directly) in your response. Though the review may be one sided or not completely accurate, respond only with comments that will be productive for resolving the situation.

7. Offer to Have a Conversation

Ask the reviewer if they are open to having an offline discussion via phone or email. End your response with your first name or initials to let them know that you are a real person and that you are interested in listening to what they have to say.

8. Continue to Ask for Reviews

You might be discouraged after receiving a bad review, but keep your head up and continue asking your customers for reviews. As time goes on, any negative comments will eventually get overshadowed by good ones.

It all boils down to you simply showing up and responding in a positive and professional manner. You’ll always come out on top if you remember to sprinkle a little sugar on your conversations rather than vinegar—the wise words of my grandma have helped me and can also help you navigate those tough and sometimes uncomfortable situations like handling a negative review.

Have you effectively handled a bad review? How did you do it? Email and tell us about your strategy. 

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