Dealing with a negative review


You put your heart and soul into building your business. Whether you sell a product or a service, no matter how amazing it is, it’s inevitable you are going to run into a few negative reviews. They can crop up for any number of reasons: the customer is having a bad day; something went wrong with your product/service; what you offer really just wasn’t a good fit with the customer; or perhaps it was the ever-present internet troll (people who will do or say anything to get a rise out of someone).

Whatever the reason for the negative review, don’t take it personally.

Here are a few things to consider so you can come out ahead after a bad review.

  1. CREATE A PLAN: In fact, if you have protocols in place ahead of time, then you can be strategic about your response rather than rely on decisions that might be based on an emotional reaction. Regardless of the situation, how you respond shouldn’t differ.
  2. DON’T WAIT TOO LONG TO RESPOND PUBLICLY: Gage the situation – if it’s an internet troll, they are just looking for an argument. If it’s a credible customer situation, respond strategically within 48 hours. A quick response and an attempt at a positive outcome reflects positively on you. In many cases the review may be edited or deleted if they are happy, but never ask them to remove a bad review.
  3. TAKE IT OFFLINE: While it’s good for everyone to see that you are listening to your customers and are concerned about their experience with your brand, you don’t need to air all of the nitty gritty details of the situation publicly. Ask to move the conversation to private message, email, or even a phone call, depending on the situation.
  4. CREATE A DIALOGUE: A bad review is a great opportunity for you to build a strong foundation for a long-term relationship with a customer. You are both human, after all. Show a willingness to work with them, be truthful, but keep it neutral – keep emotion out of your problem-solving.
  5. Don’t pick a fight: STOP YELLING AT PEOPLE BY RESPONDING IN ALL CAPS! It just makes you look like you are ready for a fight. Apologize and move on.
  6. TAKE IT SERIOUSLY: Your customers and potential customers are always listening. A bad review can turn away customers and you may not have a chance to win them back. If more than one person has the same complaint, then you need to take a step back and review your approach – that many people can’t be wrong.
  7. ENCOURAGE CUSTOMER REVIEWS: A great loyalty program or contest can encourage your customers to review you. The goal is to outweigh the bad with the good. You can’t (and shouldn’t) have the negative review removed but the more reviews you have, the more credible you look.
  8. LEARN FROM IT: A negative review is a great chance for you to learn more about what types of customers you shouldn’t Refine your target audience by listening. You can also tweak your approach and potentially your product/service offering based on negative reviews. Remember, multiple negative reviews about the same thing means that you are doing something wrong.

A negative review doesn’t have to be the end of the world. How you choose to deal with it will either allow you to come out ahead or fall behind. The important thing to remember is that you can always work to win back favour from your customers if you do it in the right way.

Have you gotten a negative review and you’re not sure what to do, or maybe you handled it wrong? Feel free to reach out so I can help you find a solution that is right for you.

Candace Huntly is the Founder and Principal at SongBird Marketing Communications, an award-winning agency working to take organizational and individual brands to the next level. With a passion for all things related to creativity and strategy, she specializes in business intelligence, marketing & branding, content strategy & development, media & influencer relations, and social media. Basically, if you need to put your brand, product, or cause in the public eye, she will find a way to do it, while making the approach unique to you.

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