Negative Reviews – What Should You Do?

When you start your own business you often don’t give much thought to the idea that anyone is going to dislike you, your product or the service you’re providing. You’re going into business because you’re full of passion, drive, and so much knowledge and skill that you want to share with the world that you’re simply bursting at the seams with it! Unfortunately, the reality of the business world is, no matter how good you are at what you do, you cannot please everyone. This means disappointed customers, and unfortunately these few disappointed or unhappy people can often be quite vocal about how unhappy they are.

online ratings

So; they become keyboard warriors and set out to do some damage to you and your business online. They post a review. Not just a negative review, but a scathing, soul crushing, spirit destroying review designed to make anyone who wants to do business with you turn and run screaming for the hills – a review that may even be factually incorrect. How do I know? Well, it happened to me.


The question then becomes, how do you deal with such a horrible review?


First, take a deep breath, open a bottle of wine, call your girlfriends/mum/partner/colleagues and have a good cry. It’s ok to feel crushed when things like this happen and it’s important to acknowledge those feelings. Then walk away from the computer for 24 hours. WHAT?!?!?! I hear you cry – shouldn’t I respond and correct the factually incorrect statement straight away?!?! Nope. Not unless you are the most cool-headed person on the planet. If you respond in the heat of the moment, how you are feeling is going to come across in your response and often just will add fuel to the fire. You are much better off leaving it for a little while, then responding when you aren’t reeling from first reading the review and can respond in a more professional manner.

draft email message

Second; draft a response. Don’t post it yet! Get a second, third, fourth opinion from the people around you who you trust. Make sure they read the original review and are aware of the background information. But it is also important when choosing who reviews your draft, that you pick someone who can be a little impartial. You want to make sure that your response is cool, calm, collected and factual. If you’re not in the wrong, don’t apologise – except to say perhaps “I’m sorry you’re unhappy with our service” and then point them in the direction of somewhere else where they might be happy. Even if it is a competitor.


Third; post your response and walk away from the computer!!! Don’t sit there and wait to see what the poster responds with or second guess yourself. Take some time to reflect on the good things within your business and the many positive reviews you have received from happy customers. For every vocal unhappy customer there are 10+ happy ones – and they’re often less vocal about it.


Fourth; if your overall review rating has taken a big hit, don’t be afraid to ask your loyal customer base to leave you a review to help push the negative one down your feed, and raise your overall review rating again. As mentioned before, you’ll have many more happy customers than unhappy customers, but they often don’t leave a positive review unless you remind them to.


Fifth and finally; celebrate dealing with a horrible situation by rewarding yourself with something just for you. Whether that’s a new book, a walk by the river, a decadent bubble bath or a bar of chocolate – it’s important to celebrating dealing with a s****y situation to the best of your ability.


Remember to always be polite and professional, and don’t be afraid to reiterate the truth of what has taken place. For instance: Business X sold a product to Customer Y. Customer Y returned several months later asking for a refund because the product was faulty. Business X asked how the product had been stored, and discovered that it was stored improperly (contrary to advice given and labelling on the product) and as a result Customer Y was not entitled to a refund. Customer Y was not happy with this and went back and forth several times with Business X regarding wanting a refund and Business X stood their ground, as per all of their policies. Customer Y then attended a public event, in person, with “backup” and caused a scene with Business X, who once again explained politely why they were not entitled to a refund as they had not cared for their product properly. Business X was afraid that Customer Y would then go online and leave a negative review, which they did. After leaving it overnight, Business X posted a response to Customer Y (which had been drafted and reviewed by an impartial and supporting person they knew) once again reiterating that they had not cared for the product properly, explained why the product needed to be cared for in such a way, referred them to where the information on care can be found on their product and referred them to other similar businesses for future purchases.


In the meantime, they turned to their community asking for support (also important as it is emotionally devastating to go through this), who came to the party. The loyal customers of Business X saw the negative review and response and jumped on board to reiterate how great Business X is, how wonderful their product is when cared for properly and how happy they all are with Business X. Customer Y removed their review.


There you have it – 5 steps to dealing with a negative review. Fingers crossed you don’t ever have to deal with one, but know that you’re not alone if you do.

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