What to Do When You Get a Bad Review Online

When you’re serving hundreds – or perhaps even thousands of clients – it can happen. One of them, for whatever reason, had a bad experience with your services and they left a bad review on Google, Yelp, Facebook, or another directory site you were listed on.

If it happens to you, the first thing to do is breathe. Try not to panic. Try not to get angry.  Believe it or not, it will be OK.  Here are some ideas on best practices when you get a bad review posted about your business.

Most reasonable people know these things about online reviews:

  • There are a small percentage of people out there that are negative about everything
  • If a business DOESN’T have a small percentage of bad reviews, they either don’t have enough volume or it makes you look too good to be true.
  • In most cases, people will be watching more for how you respond to the bad review than what the bad reviewer said about you.

The first thing to do when you get a bad review is to respond quickly.  But don’t do it when you are mad or defensive.  The worst thing you can do is to defend yourself and start arguing with the client. That shows the world:

  • You don’t listen
  • You don’t care
  • It’s more important for you to be right than to make it right with the client
  • You have low impulse control and low emotional maturity

When responding, include these items in your response.

  1. Let the client know they are heard. Thank them for their feedback.
  2. Apologize, even if it’s not your fault. You’re the business owner, and the buck stops with you, so suck it up and say you’re sorry for their inconvenience, discomfort, etc.
  3. Let them know you want to make it right.
  4. Direct the client to take the conversation offline in the hopes of resolving it offline. You don’t want any more back-and-forth arguing showing up on a public forum.

Here’s a sample response that is mature and thoughtful:

“Hi firstname, thank you for letting us know about your experience. I am sorry this happened to you and I’d like to see what we can do to make it right for you. Please email us at support@sandismith.com so we can get this issue resolved for you.”

This example accomplished all four items above and most importantly, takes the conversation offline for a personal resolution.

What if it’s spam or you don’t know the person that left the review?  This happens.  Here’s a possible response for that:

“Thank you for your feedback and I apologize for the experience you had. While our records don’t show that you are a customer, we’d like to help you get this resolved for our peace of mind. Please email us at support@sandismith.com so we can learn more about your situation.”

Keep these ideas in mind to handle a bad review in the best way possible.