Public Interest

Know how to handle negative reviews

Your customers are armed with the technology and the permission to publish a review about your work, and it could be negative. Poorly handled, your response could get you in hot water. Master Plumbers’ Curtis de la Harpe provides tips on how to handle those negative reviews.

Your customers are armed with the technology and the permission to publish a review about your work, and it could be negative. Poorly handled, your response could get you in hot water.

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Know how to handle negative reviews

Years ago, marketing experts would say, “don’t worry about the occasional negative review if you are getting more positive reviews”.

However, users are now conditioned to click through to the negative reviews. In part this is due to the prevalence of companies paying for positive reviews.

So, it is important to follow the recommendations below, even if you only have one or two negative reviews.

If negative reviews weigh more, what can I do?

You are going to get a negative review. Let that sink in and accept it. It is how you respond that makes the difference to your prospective and returning customers.

Firstly, do not ignore a negative review. A company that responds to its reviews shows customers that they are open to criticism and that they are looking to make good, do better or understand the situation.

I am going to respond, but how should I?

There are really three ways to respond to a review:

1 Scorched earth

Call out the reviewer and say that their experience is wrong is one way to respond, a terrible way! As much as your brain is telling you that the reviewer is an idiot and deserves to be made aware, this is not great for anyone.

Many companies have given into their urges over the years and gone
scorched earth on a reviewer. Very few have successfully come out looking good. Most end up losing business in the long run.

2 The generic response

The generic: “We take feedback very seriously and we thank you for your review, we will seek to improve….” is the equivalent of not responding.
You have left the reviewer with no real conclusion.

This type of response also doesn’t encourage customers providing a positive review either. Where at all possible, make your review personal, and show that you are seeking to understand and willing to give your time to those who have given theirs.

3 We want to understand and resolve

This response is the one that not only addresses the reason for the negative review but also shows that you are actively interested in fixing the problem.

Remember the most important person in any back and forth between you and the customer is the future reader of the review.

If you solve the customer’s problem and turn them around into a positive review and/or ongoing customer, then that is a bonus.

This can also be bolstered by adding a call to action or an incentive to try your service again. A “We are truly sorry for *insert situation*. This is not the experience we want to give our customers. If you decide to use our business in the future, please mention this response and we will make sure to check with you that you are truly happy with the service before we leave.” Or even “let us
come and fix the issue for you free of charge.”

This opens the door for you to make things right and gives them a reason to update/remove the negative review. Just make sure to do a stellar job in their eyes next visit.

What about old reviews?

I have fixed many companies online PR issues. In many cases I have
come into a business where their reviews are old. This doesn’t mean that I ignore them, responding to an old review with “I know that this review is old and you didn’t receive contact until now, however, I am interested to learn more about the issue and see if there is something I can do about this for you.  If you could contact me personally on nam[email protected], I would love to discuss this further.”

This has led to be having discussions with customers that are long “over” their gripe with the company or can be convinced that the company has “changed its ways” and can led to someone deleting their old review or updating to a four star or better as someone listened, understood, and cared about their problem.

Fake reviews or wrong business

Calling a review fake doesn’t hold much value, even if they are.

So don’t do it.

You might also receive a poor review for another business that a customer has confused you with. It is important to try to contact the reviewer to point out this unfortunate mistaken identity. Most reviewers will correct their review once informed.

Most review websites are apathetic to reviews being flagged as fake.

It is frustrating that you have little to no recourse. Despite this, it is always good to report them, just in case you can get someone to act.

Responding to a fake review can be difficult but you also don’t want a customer’s experience to be ignored. So, you do need to treat them as legitimate.

Some people cannot be soothed

At the end of the day, you are going to get fake reviews; reviews by people not willing to work with you. It is a part of doing business. You just need to  remember; one or two reviews are not going to sink your business. Do what you can to answer and show future readers that you care and move on. While
customers might be drawn to the negatives, it is still important to encourage positive reviews to ensure you have strong digital presence. Customers are
accustomed to people asking for reviews and those who you have connected with, and worked well for, will be happy to do it. All you need to do is make it easy for them.

More on this in an upcoming edition! Identifying names of individuals,
companies and suburbs have been removed. However, the content of these posts are unchanged.





November 2023 Emerson/Ridge/Rigid


Your customers are armed with the technology and the permission to publish a review about your work, and it could be negative. Poorly handled, your response could get you in hot water.

Share this quote
November 2023 Emerson/Ridge/Rigid


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