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Your Guide to Handling Negative Reviews

Your Guide to Handling Negative Reviews Like A Pro

No matter how good you are, you can’t please everyone.

The good news is that you don’t have to.

No service is perfect. You can go out of your way to meet your client’s needs and still have them think you didn’t do that awesome of a job. This is unavoidable, as people have all kinds of ideas about what great service looks like.

For some, just the fact that you came and fixed the issue will be enough. For others, they nitpick and have these giant expectations that nobody can meet. These are the ones that will likely leave negative reviews, which you’d have to focus on to repair your reputation.

Getting bad reviews sucks. It destroys your ego and makes you think you’re doing something wrong. When in fact, they’re nothing more than a chance for you to improve.

Here you’ll see how to change your perception of negative reviews. In addition, you’ll leave this article with a clear process of handling negative reviews in the best way possible.

But before we dive into this, let’s talk about why reviews are more important than ever.

Social Media – A Blessing and A Curse

It has never been easier for people to share their opinions about pretty much anything. All they have to do is to get in front of a screen and type out whatever they’re feeling.

This can be a great thing, as it means getting feedback from your clients in an instant. But what if someone leaves a bad online review for everyone to see? This might cause all sorts of negative feelings from disbelief and guilt to panic and rage.

After putting so much effort into your service, someone says they hated it. How terrible!

Except it’s not.

Think about it – would you trust a service that only has five-star reviews and nothing else? Probably not. Even if only a handful of people have used a service, chances are that not all of them would appreciate it so much that they give it five stars.

Getting a bad online review every once in a while is not only normal, but it can be necessary to let people know that your service is legit and you haven’t manufactured your reviews – which is doable as you might know. Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work for those five-star reviews.

Getting Five-Star Reviews

Many people just sit around and wait for reviews to fall from the sky. Even though this might work to some extent, it’s far from the best solution. If you really want to get those great reviews, you have to ask for them.

The key to getting positive reviews is raising expectations. This might sound counterintuitive, as setting high expectations makes it hard to meet them, doesn’t it?

In fact, the very opposite is true. What you want to do is to make sure that people see you as someone who will provide a service that would deserve 5 stars even before you get started. From the moment you get on a call with a client, you need to let them know that you’ll give them a service so good that they wouldn’t be able to resist giving you a great review.

This will motivate you to rise to the occasion and actually do it. You’re much more likely to deliver exceptional service if you promise it right away.

Even if you don’t, it’s not the end of the road. What you should do is ask for honest feedback from the client. Let them know that you care about them so much that you won’t leave until they’re 100% satisfied. This will make the client feel more valued and respected, which makes it that much more likely to result in you getting positive reviews.

But what if you don’t? What if you get a horrible review from the client despite your best efforts? You can do something about it, and it’s easier than you might think.

Dealing with Negative Reviews – The Three R Process

Believe it or not, it’s absolutely possible to turn haters into raving fans. All that it takes is handling bad reviews the right way. Instead of obsessing over why someone didn’t like your service, go out of your way to change their mind.

There’s a very clear system that you can use for this. It consists of three simple steps that can turn someone’s opinion around: Respond, Relocate, Raise.

1. Respond

Responding to reviews is hugely important, whether they’re good or bad. When people write a review, it means they took the time out of their schedule to leave you feedback. If it’s good, you’ll want to show your appreciation.

Even if the client posted it months ago, you should go back and thank them for it. Let them know you appreciate it. Do you know why?

Because it will make them want to do it again. They’ll feel valued, a positive feeling. You’ll want to try your best to encourage positive reviews, as people tend to be more diligent at leaving reviews after having a perceived bad experience than a good experience.

But let’s take a look at the opposite case. What if you got a bad online review that might give a false impression of your service?

The first step is to respond the right way.

You wouldn’t want to justify your mistake. It’ll make you look defensive, so that’s not a good approach.

Instead, invite the reviewer to discuss the issue with you. Let them know that you genuinely care about why they weren’t 100% satisfied. Then, publicly promise that you’ll do whatever it takes to earn their trust back.

Take a look at the example below:


This user left a scathing review to a Honda dealer’s services. Instead of trying to explain themselves, the dealer simply admitted the mistake and invited the client to discuss it, while promising that they’ll fix the issue. This is the best approach to handling negative reviews. Still, it’s only the first step.

2. Relocate

We’ve already established that it’s unavoidable to get a bad review or two. When it comes to relocation, there are two ways to go about this.

The first is to turn to your defenders to offset the negative review. These are the people that absolutely love your service and are willing to defend it against anything.

When it comes to this, don’t be afraid to ask your raving fans for support directly. You can explain what happened and ask if they’d provide you with the support you need. Chances are good that at least a few of them will.

This is the easier of the two, as you’re not going to have to say much, All you have to do is to let your fans do the talking for you.

The other approach is a bit tougher, but it’s potentially much more effective. Instead of getting positive reviews from others, why not change the opinion of the person that left the bad review?

In the vast majority of cases, there will be something you can do to fix the issue and change someone’s mind. Take a look at this example:


After you’ve fixed the issue that caused a bad review, ask your client to leave a better one. Some platforms even allow them to amend their review from negative to positive. If they’re truly happy with how you handled the situation, they’ll be more than happy to do it.

This is even better than asking for positive reviews, as it shows that you’re willing to work to fix problems.

3. Raise

The last step for handling negative reviews is to Raise the bar.

This means that instead of beating yourself up about a bad review, you can turn it into a metric of continuous improvement. You do that by getting better at everything you do. Raise the level of your community and service quality and everything else that makes you more amazing every single day.

The first reaction to a bad online review is disappointment. Your ego gets hurt, so you might want to fight to defend your service. Don’t do this. Instead, focus on caring and letting people know that you’re working hard to improve your services all the time. And then actually do it.

Reviews can be a great metric of your success. As long as you can measure something, you can improve it. So, take that negative review as a chance to see what can be better and keep raising the bar.

The Takeaway

Bad online reviews aren’t as bad as they sound. If you handle them the right way, they can be a source of improvement and even a growth driver. All it takes is knowing what to do about them.

Remember not to let bad reviews knock you down. Similarly, don’t get cocky after getting a streak of good ones. Use the reviews to see what people really think about your service and what you can do to make it amazing.

People will almost always respond well to you fixing the issues that arise, and this can turn those who hate your service into raving fans in no time.

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