6 Steps to Handling a Bad Online Review

By Eric Welke

Your online reviews tell the message of who your company is, what you do, and the service that you provide. When your reviews are positive, you can bring in more customers, give customers a reason to return, and improve upon your online image. But when a review is negative, you may face a few problems.

Getting a negative review isn’t the end of the world (or your business), but you will need to handle it appropriately. In this guide, we will help you:

  • Understand what to do when you get a negative review.
  • Know what to say in response to a negative review.
  • Develop ideas on how to improve the customer’s perception.

You’ve just gotten your first negative online review and you’re panicking. This less-than glowing review is up for the entire world to see and you’re worried about how it will influence your new business or potential customers researching your name. Your first thought may be to ignore it, but there is a much better way to respond.

The truth of the matter is negative reviews will happen. Whether an employee had an off day or your business wasn’t what the customer was expecting, something didn’t line up the way that they had hoped.

But when a negative review does come your way, you don’t want to just ignore it. Here are 6 steps that you should take each time you get a negative review.

  1. Take a Breath

You’ve worked hard to grow your business, so it makes sense that you’re feeling a little defensive when someone criticizes it. But that doesn’t mean you should lash out online for the whole world to see. Before you do anything, take a moment to allow yourself to calm down.

This may be a few minutes or it may be a day or two. Take the time that you need to remove the emotion from your response.

  1. Understand Their Issue

Read the review carefully to see if you can pinpoint just where they became unhappy. If you respond believing they were just looking to make a negative comment, you may come across as defensive and unprofessional.

Instead, see if you can find the true problem and recognize that a genuine mistake may have been made.

  1. Don’t Challenge the Customer

Unless the individual has given a review for a completely different company, don’t try and tell them that they are wrong. If they have stated incorrect facts about your business, such as its locations or services, you can tell them in a polite and informative manner. But if you feel that you’re trying to tell them how to feel, you’ll only show other customers that you don’t value their opinions.

Instead, remember that the customer is always right – even if you don’t agree.

  1. Stay Positive

It may be difficult to stay positive while responding to a negative review, but you want to show your customers that you are still professional. A professional and serious company will keep the emotion and bitterness out of their response. When you begin your response to the negative reviewer, always begin by apologizing for their experience – but not for your entire business.

By showing that you care about all customer experiences, you show this customer and potential customers that there is transparency in your business.

  1. Provide a Solution, If Its Reasonable

Sometimes, the review will be clear about why they were unhappy. Maybe they didn’t like the food they had or you didn’t have a certain product in stock when they came into the store. If there is a clear problem with a solution, offer it – just make sure it is not discount or anything that can be perceived as a bribe.

A replacement to make them whole is ok. But you do not want to start offering discounts to everyone who leaves a bad review. That opens you up to being taken advantage of.

  1. Take it Offline

At the end of your response, give them contact information if they would like to discuss the situation further. By taking the situation offline, you remove any drama that could result and keep further negative comments from this customer from appearing in your review section.

Following up to show that you would like to resolve the issue one-on-one can also show potential customers that you care about solving the issue.

Final Words

Negative reviews will happen at some point, so you should be prepared and ready when one appears. When responding to the post, remember to remain calm, professional, and to keep any blame or negatively out of your response. In a calm and practiced manner, ask what you can do to make the situation better and create a loyal customer.

The faster you can reply the better. Reputation management software like we offer at RenegadeWorks can send you automated notifications whenever a new review is found. This keeps your customers happier, helps drive more customers to the door, and keeps you actively engaged with what is being said about your company.

Author Bio

Eric Welke is a Cofounder and the President of RenegadeWorks. RenegadeWorks provides online reputation management software and referral marketing software for small businesses. Eric is passionate about helping businesses succeed in an ever-changing digital world. Follow Eric and the RenegadeWorks team on Twitter @ RenegadeWorks