It’s the worst feeling for a business owner – especially a small business owner. Receiving a negative review can send you and your team into a tailspin. 

Our team has worked with people in the building industry and in the restaurant industry through the years. Needless to say, we’ve seen our fair-share of negative reviews (these two industries tend to get the customers who – rather than make a phone call and productively find a solution to their issue or at the very least ask for a manager while at the table – they take to social media as self-appointed “keyboard warriors”). Is there mission to “save” others from having a similar negative experience? I don’t think so. I believe they feel somewhat anonymous and safer hiding behind a keyboard to spout off really negative things about a company. And honestly, it’s just a way to lash out. Maybe they were having a bad day. Maybe they didn’t get the answer they wanted. Maybe they need a nap.

Years ago, when all this began, we’d have clients ask us why we couldn’t just hide or remove a negative comment or review. Well that’s a GREAT way to tell a customer you’re not listening to them, isn’t it? And what if another person has the same question? What if that person saw the review and now notices it’s gone? How does that make the company look? So no, you cannot hide them and you cannot delete them. You have to face them. Here are the steps we typically recommend companies take when they receive a negative review: 

  1. Take a deep breath. DO NOT IMMEDIATELY REACT. 
  2. Call in all the team members with knowledge of the situation. Get the facts. 
  3. Determine the best way to respond. In many cases, that means taking it off line and picking up the phone. Sometimes, a calm, rational phone call is enough to get the reviewer to remove their own post. It’s amazing what a good old-fashioned conversation can do. In cases where the review isn’t coming down, it is important to publicly acknowledge it. It could mean “Thank you so much for this feedback. We take all reviews seriously and would like the opportunity to speak with you. Please call <first name> at <phone number> and we hope to make the situation better.” But sometimes, there is just no reasoning with an irate customer. It’s still important to respond with a “thank you for this feedback.” 
  4. While you’re in there, make sure you’re also checking for POSITIVE reviews and thanking those people for taking time out of their busy day to leave this amazing review. 
  5. Then, you’ve got to take a look in the mirror…. 

Look, there is one thing that has remained true no matter the invention of the internet: a bad product cannot be fixed by a good review. This includes service. So read those negative reviews and truly use them to improve. Does the reviewer have a point? Was the customer treated poorly or in a way that does not truly represent your business? Get to the bottom of it. And fast. That’s the best way to ward off a negative review. 

And lots of times your company can take that negative review and use it as a springboard for a blogpost that helps answer the question or solve the issue before it comes up again. We do this a lot with our clients. Sometimes, the best way to handle a negative review is to outsource to a person like someone on our team. When you aren’t emotionally attached to the situation, your response just might be more above-board. 

Before I close, I want to share the impetus for this post. Ah Whatta ‘Bout Mimi is a local retailer providing balloons, gift baskets and employee recognition gifts located here in Louisville. Fun fact: when I closed my former business, Complete Basketcase, I had a basement full of unused gift baskets and offloaded them to Mimi and her team. They have a lot of fun at this company and I’ve followed their social for years, as a fan. Over the weekend, I saw this post. I honestly did not know that balloon releases can be so harmful to animals. The caption to this photo reads: 

“We recently received a bad Google review because we refused to sell balloons to a customer wanting them for a balloon release. This picture says it all. Animals domestic and wild will eat the ribbon and balloons. Many animals have lost their lives from eating balloons. Ingesting balloons can cause death by blocking the digestive and/or respiratory tracts. It can be a slow, painful death. Do NOT release balloons. Your loved ones would not want you to kill animals in their name. We say pin it and bin it.”

I love that Ah Whatta ‘Bout Mimi used this negative review as a way to educate their customers and the public about an issue that is related to their business. They held their ground against the negative review and stand by their decision. If given the opportunity, this is truly one of the best turnarounds of a negative review I’ve ever seen. Way to go, Mimi team! 

So before you fire off a snarky response to a negative review, gather your team together, get to the bottom of the situation, and make sure your response is professional. If you can educate the public from it, even better. 


Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
(502) 533-1328