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Everyone Will Get A Negative Review

It never feels good to get alerted to a bad review on Yelp or Google for your business. Online reviews are such an essential part of marketing, managing your reputation, and attracting new customers that every single one matters. A bad review isn’t necessarily the end of the world, however, in fact it could be the beginning of something great. Let’s take a look at how you should handle the negative review.

Prepare for a negative review

Prepare in Advance

The truth is that you will get a negative review at some point in time. The best thing you can do is to be prepared in advance for that review to come in. You may not necessarily know there was an unhappy customer until you read the review, but you can prepare for the eventuality that there will be an unhappy customer one day. It’s important to think about how you will address the different kinds of negative reviews before they happen. This will enable you to keep your cool and enact your plan without causing further damage. So mentally prepare yourself to receive negative reviews and make a plan of action. For example, if you’re a naturally hot headed person you might want to pass on the task of replying to reviews to someone else trustworthy in your business. Or you might want to give yourself a few minutes to deal with the reality of what is being said before you respond.

Understand customer's motivation

Understand the Customer’s Motivation and Reply


Customers have different motivations for leaving negative reviews and it’s important to understand them so that you can best address the review. Some customers are angry and they leave a negative review because they are looking for a way to get revenge for the bad experience they had. Hopefully, you won’t have to deal with this kind of review very often. When a customer is very specific and very angry, it’s best to leave a general note expressing your regret and encouraging them to contact you so that you can discuss the situation in detail. This allows you to take the conversation off the public space which is helpful for both you and the customer. It’s very important that you remain off the defensive and give the customer the attention they are seeking. Be sincere when you apologize, listen to what they have to say, and decide what you can do to fix the problem. Hopefully, you will be able to have a productive conversation, but it is not always possible.


Some customers leave a negative review because they want to warn others about the experience they’ve had. In these cases, it is still important to respond. Staying calm, you will want to apologize and then explain that what the customer experienced is not typical for your business. Again, you will want to offer them the chance to contact you in private so that you work to fix the situation. Many customers will not take you up on this offer, but if they do, you have a chance to improve their overall experience so that they may go back and edit their original review of your business. If this happens it’s a win. It means you’ve made their experience better enough they no longer feel they have to warn others to stay away from your business!


Other customers are looking for special compensation. They complain in hopes you’ll give them a discount or special offer. It may not be obvious from their review, they might not come right out and say, “give me something free and I’ll never complain again!” so you’ll want to follow the same process as before. Apologize, thank the customer for taking time to share their thoughts and encourage them to contact you offline. Once you’ve had a chance to talk with them “offline” (via phone or email) you can decide if you want to offer a coupon or freebie and if that’s in the best interest of your relationship with the customer. If you put a strategy in place previously for these situations, it might make that decision process easier.

Learn from unhappy customers

Learn from Your Unhappy Customers

You are only going to hear from 4% of your unhappy customers. That means that 96% of your customers who have a bad experience aren’t going to tell you. And 91% of them will never return. The 4% of your customers that let you know? They are giving you a gift. While some negative reviews can be the result of misguided expectations, a lot of the time negative reviews are earned. So it’s important to carefully read what your unhappy customers are saying and learn what isn’t working at your business. You may learn that certain employees are rude or slacking off when management isn’t around. Or you may learn that a certain process you use for some of your services isn’t as efficient as you think. Whatever the case may be, it’s important that you don’t pass up this valuable learning opportunity. Find out what isn’t working or what could be working better.

Take steps to improve customer experience

Take the Next Steps

Once you’ve learned what isn’t working for customers, you want to spend time working on improving processes. Talk to your employees. Set up some workshops and retrain if necessary. Ask some customers directly while they are at your place of business if it would give you more information and insight about changes you can make. Don’t let the opportunity go to waste. Keep in mind that this isn’t just about chasing better reviews, but rather about providing better service to your customers and reaching the customers who don’t complain.

It can be tempting to see negative reviews as something bad but instead embrace them as a learning experience. Be prepared for them, understand the motivations behind why your customers are leaving them, learn what changes you can make, and take the steps to improve your business! If you have any questions about reputation management or are looking for an easier way to handle incoming reviews, contact us via the form below or ask us on Twitter @uthinkcreative1.

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