So You Got a Bad Review. Now What?

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If you’ve been in business for more than a hot minute, you know that somebody’s always going to have something ugly to say.

It’s just inevitable. Someone’s going to leave you a bad review. Someone’s going to complain about something. And you need to know how to deal with it when it happens – especially if it’s online and the world can see it.

Pay attention

You have to know if someone’s saying something negative about you, so you’ve got to pay attention to what’s going on online. Check your notifications on all your platforms. One of the best things you can do is set up a Google alert for your name and your business so you can keep up with what’s being said about you.

I had a client a few years ago that was left the worst review. It was fake, but it was terrible. Because she had a Google alert set up for her name, it gave her the opportunity to handle it well. So make sure you’re paying attention.

Is it Legitimate?

Do you really need to respond? It depends. Is the comment valid? Is the person who left the comment an actual customer?

If it’s an actual person – not a troll or a spammer or someone trying to engage negatively with you online – you need to respond. If that’s the case, you need to get right on it. We have in the past taken a bad review and made it a positive situation by the way we responded. So it can be a good thing.

Not too long ago, we had a fake account leave a bad review for a realtor client. She was terribly upset, understandably, because it wasn’t real. If this happens, reach out to Facebook and they can block them from your page and remove the review. Facebook understands that sometimes there are angry ex-boyfriends and just crazy people. If it’s not legitimate, you don’t have to deal with it, just have it removed.

Respond privately or publicly?

There are pros and cons either way. The major pro for a public response: you need to be transparent as a business person and allow people to see how you deal with the negative side of things.

Responding this way actually validates your company. Statistics show that if you have zero negative comments or reviews, people tend to think you’re not real or all your reviews are left by your mom or best friend.

You can’t please everybody. Most people are pretty reasonable and understand that you’re going to have some bad reviews here and there. So I would say – unless it’s really specific or absurd – leave it online so the whole world can see the way you handle it.

Remain Calm

Don’t lash out or respond in anger. There’s no room for accusatory statements. You have to remain calm.

Be Direct

Don’t leave any room for interpretation. Don’t be vague; get to the point quickly, concisely and directly without being rude.

Thank the Reviewer

This might seem counter intuitive, but you need to know what’s going on with your business. Thank them for bringing the issue to your attention. If they’re taking the time to tell you, it’s important enough to share. I basically live on Amazon, but, unless the experience makes me mad, I don’t leave a review. That’s terrible, I know. But if I’m angry enough to leave a review, then the person I’m reviewing needs to deal with me.

A Little Empathy Goes a Long Way

Be genuinely concerned. A lot of times, you don’t know what’s going on in this person’s life. It could just be a miscommunication or misunderstanding – genuinely want to know what’s wrong. Once you find out a let them talk, people tend to calm down.

Never Delete It

Never delete a legitimate comment. It’s just a terrible idea.

If It’s on You, Apologize

If it’s your fault, you should totally apologize for it. It’s OK to accept responsibility for a mistake on your part. But you don’t have to own anything that’s not yours

Don’t Argue with Crazy

You cannot get into a battle of wits with an unarmed person. Don’t engage people who are crazy online. Sometimes people just want to rant, and that’s their right and privilege. But if they’re being crazy, you don’t have to be crazy with them.

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