how to deal with negative reviews online

It starts like this…

Imagine that “Gary”, a roofing contractor, logs in to his Facebook page and discovers this newly-posted review:

“Do NOT use this company. I hired them in good faith and have been scammed. After rescheduling TWICE (for unspecified reasons), my roof was finally repaired.  When I came home, I found a bunch of roof debris in my bushes. They drove heavy equipment all over my yard which is now COMPLETELY torn up.  All my efforts to contact them and set things straight ended with the receptionist cutting me off and refusing to let me talk to a supervisor. Definitely disappointed with this company. “

Gary immediately knows this woman is wrong and stretching the truth.  Angry and wanting to correct her errors, he types his response:

“This woman is a scam! I know for a fact that my crew performed a spectacular repair and laid down protective tarps over her bushes. They were forced to drive on the edge of the lawn because her driveway was blocked. Her phone call to our office consisted of angry expletives directed towards our receptionist.  When asked to calm down, she refused to pay her bill and still owes us over $2500. Roofers – beware.”

Yikes. Do you see where Gary went wrong? Unfortunately, we’ve seen this happen way too many times.

First, you need to face the facts:

If you are in the service industry, there is no way to avoid an occasional negative review.


Better ways to respond to a negative review

If you discover an upsetting review, calm down. An unjustified, scathing review can cause damage, but you may cause even more damage by responding when you are guided by anger.

Instead, I would respond something like this:

“Mary, I am so sorry to hear about your experience with Gary Roofing. We pride ourselves on our professionalism, timeliness and care with each job we perform. If we fell short of those expectations, I would personally like to hear about it and see what I can do to remedy the situation. Please call our office and ask for Gary.”

This does two things:

1) Shows the reviewer (and other online viewers) that you listen to your customer concerns and take an active role in trying to address them.

2) Moves to conversation offline. I have seen small negative reviews turn into massive online hate campaigns because business owners have let their emotions get the best of them and responded poorly. This can be avoided by simply moving the conversation away from the public forum to a private phone call.

Most of the time, an unhappy customer just wants to vent to someone who will make them feel that their feedback is valued. Let them know that you will talk to those at fault. If you can resolve the situation with minimal cost, ($50 off of their final bill,  a small discount, offer a gift card, etc.) DO IT.

It will cost you more in the long run if you have a negative review that persists in driving future customers away from your business.

You can’t please everyone

In the business world, mistakes happen. A negative review or response can be very frustrating, but it does present an opportunity. Most review websites allow you to respond to negative and positive comments alike.  A helpful response can cause the reviewer to change their rating or delete their review.

Of course, even a constructive response does not cause the reviewer to change their mind, it is a testament to other readers that you care about your customers enough to make an effort to resolve their distress.

Learn More About Online Etiquette


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