What to Do When You Get a Bad Review

What to Do When You Get a Bad Review


Did you know that 72% of people say they trust online reviews as much as a referral from a friend? That’s a huge opportunity. In my last post, we talked about the vital importance of generating a large number of reviews from your customers, and I walked you step-by-step on exactly how to do it. With online reviews being such a trusted source of information on your business, it’s important that the vast majority are 5-star. However, even the most dedicated small business owner will occasionally get a bad review. When it happens to you, take it seriously, but don’t freak out. Negative reviews are actually an opportunity!

You might be thinking I’ve gone a little far with that statement. But handled correctly, you can turn an angry customer into your biggest fan. Let me explain by telling a quick personal story.

Several months ago I discovered a leak in my home that had produced a large amount of black mold under my floor. We couldn’t see it, or smell it, but it was making my wife and kids seriously sick. Once we found the source, I immediately called my homeowners insurance company. I’m not a construction guru, but I know black mold remediation can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, after meeting with the adjuster, they denied my claim. It was devastating. I would not only be stuck with the cost of fixing the damage, but finding another place for my family to live until it was safe to return. I was angry.

I took my plight to Facebook and ranted for several paragraphs about my disappointment in the way my case was handled. Within 6 minutes I had a response from an Allstate representative, who immediately escalated my case. Within a few days, they had cut me a check covering all the costs. My deep disappointment and anger, was immediately turned into great appreciation!

Allstate was able to turn that situation around by displaying world-class customer service. They immediately responded to my complaint and took whatever steps necessary to correct the problem. As a result, they converted an angry customer into a fan who is now writing at length about their excellent customer service. Sadly, but honestly, they probably wouldn’t have had as much exposure had they cut me a check at the outset.

Thing is, every company makes mistakes. Including yours. But if you handle the situation correctly, not only can you change your customer’s mind about your brand, you also have the opportunity of putting your world-class service on display for all the world to see.

Now for the step-by-step how-to.

  1. Monitor. You have to be aware of what people are saying about your brand online. As a small business owner, not staying on top of this is irresponsible. If you’ve claimed your account on the directory where your customers are making reviews, you should be notified by email when some says something. However, don’t rely on this. Manually check for missed reviews every chance you get.
  2. Respond. As I mentioned in my illustration above, a timely response goes a long way in resolving the issue in a professional manner. I was seriously impressed with Allstate’s responsiveness. Your customers should be as well. It’s much more difficult to win a customer over who has been stewing for several days. It’s said that angry customers tell 3,000 people. However, this doesn’t happen overnight. Turning their experience around as soon as possible will help mitigate the damage.
  3. Do it Publicly. There are some who may disagree with me here, but I say to always make your first response a public one. The negative review is public, so at least use it as an opportunity to show-case the fact that you truly care about your customer’s satisfaction.
  4. Take it Private. At the end of your public response, invite them to email you personally in order to resolve their concern. The last thing you want is an ongoing argument for the world to see.
  5. Deliver. People hate when business’ over promise and under deliver. Come to a mutually agreeable arrangement, but remember to be generous. Then execute like a customer service ninja. It’s not simply for the sake of this customer, but for the sake of all who they tell about the experience. Think about my example. Allstate was very generous with me. Any idea how many people I’ve told about my experience? Your guess is as good as mine, but it’s been a lot.

So, next time you get a negative review, turn it into a positive situation by going above and beyond to correct the problem. You can turn your most angry, despondent “former” customer into your biggest fan if you do the right things to resolve their concern.

Oh, I almost forgot. Want to know the “secret sauce” when it comes to dealing with negative reviews? Burry them with tons of awesome reviews. If a prospective customer lands on your reviews page and sees a dozen 5-star reviews, they’re not going to run for the hills when they see a 1-star, especially if you’ve handled that situation like the class-act professional you are.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to get in touch, or post below!

Jeff Bickley

Over the past decade, Jeff has worked with numerous Fortune 100 and Start-Up companies to establish, reinvent, and re-enforce their brand. A serial entrepreneur at heart, Jeff has a passion for leveraging his vast experience to provide solid and timely advice to business leaders at all levels.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.