What Should You Do If Your Company Receives a Bad Review Online?
Good companies get bad mouthed online.
Sometimes it’s a legitimate complaint and sometimes it’s simply an unfounded attack.
So what should you do if you receive a bad review?
There are two paths that I’ll address in this post. The first one is what to do if you made a legitimate mistake and are being hammered online for it and the second is what to do if the attack is unfounded. Whichever it is, handle it correctly because it will have an effect on your online success.
Bad Review Online - What Should You Do First?
The very first thing you should do if your company has been reviewed badly online is nothing.
You read that right, do nothing, at least for enough time to cool off.
Depending on how you react to things like this, it may take a few hours or a few days before you should respond. A cool head will be a huge asset when dealing with a bad review.
A few years ago we had a contractor call us to talk about having us do his SEO. He mentioned a crazy lady that attacked him on one of the major review sites. Our team looked it up and couldn’t believe what we saw.
This is the perfect example of how not to respond to a bad review and the reason you should always take advantage of a cooling off period.
The review went something like this:
“I was driving on XYZ road today and was run off the road by a truck that had a sign on it that said XXX plumbing. I had my child with me in his car seat and we were nearly killed by this maniac. You guys need to train your employees to be more careful and courteous.”
The business owner response went something like this:
“I don’t have any employees. That was me driving my truck and you drive too slow and wouldn’t get out of my way. I didn’t run you and your kid off the road I just passed you – you’re an A$% H* “
I think most of us know this is a horrible way to handle a review. This is also a missed opportunity for some good PR.
I can’t say for certain, but I would think that anyone that researched this company online, as most consumers do, would likely have called another plumber.
How Could You Respond to a Bad Review?
A better response might have been:
“We’re so sorry for your bad experience and we’re very happy that you and your son were not hurt. We want to assure you that this is not representative of any sort of behavior condoned by our company. We will cover this with the driver and have him attend the proper training so as to make him aware of his mistake and avoid this mistake in the future. We appreciate you bringing this to our attention.”
A little self-control and a well-thought-out response might have taken a really bad experience and turned it around so that the company didn’t look so bad. If you’re going to talk about training make sure that it is actually done so that your response is truthful. All responses should be truthful and heartfelt.
We are all protective of our companies and our reputations. After all, our companies are our pride and joy and we don’t like anyone finding fault with us, our employees, or our work. But with this said, take responsibility for mistakes and make them right to the best of your ability. You may want to speak with your attorney before admitting to any wrongdoing as in the example mentioned above.
If you get a bad review, be honest with yourself and really assess whether you or your team have done something wrong. If we’re totally honest, we know that we all make mistakes. It’s not the mistake that kills you, it’s the way you handle the mistake that could crush your business.
On the other hand, if you handle it well, it’s a great opportunity to show your commitment to customer service and the care of your customers
Most legitimate mistakes are forgivable by the public as long as they are handled correctly. Show that you are doing everything in your power to correct the issue.
As an example, if you’re a remodeling contractor and someone is complaining about the tile job you did in the bathroom – go back and fix it, or at least check it out before responding online.
If the job was done right, or if you’ve had to make adjustments to get it right, take some pictures before and after. Then post a well-worded response online, and if the review site allows, add some pictures showing the corrected, or the properly completed tile work.
Whatever you do, don’t overreact or add fuel to the fire. It may be hard not to fire off at someone because you’re sure you couldn’t have made a mistake. Get the facts and cool off before you do anything and your reputation and your business will benefit from it.
As you can see, there are things you can do to take the steam out of a bad online review that’s about a legitimate complaint.
What Do You Do When You Are the Victim of an Unjust Bad Review Online?
Unfortunately there are cowards that hide behind the anonymity of the Internet to unjustly attack legitimate businesses. There are people that either want to harm your business or reputation or may even be trying to get money from you.
There have been instances where people must think they can hire you and then use a bad online review to get their money back after you deliver a good service.
These people are the people that most business owners would like to sue. And you can sue them if it’s worth it to you. If they have misrepresented facts online in a review the courts have sided with business owners and some pretty hefty judgements have been handed down. Collecting on those judgements may be a different game altogether.
Here’s a way to handle this type of review without going through the expense and stress of a legal battle
I once had a person post a bad review on a company that I was a part owner of and it was entirely unjust and without merit. Instead of going off on the guy on the review site I simply told the truth on our site.
I created a page on my website that was titled “Unhappy Customers.” My staff thought I was crazy, but it was the perfect way to handle the problem. I calmly and professionally showed proof that the attacker was misrepresenting the truth.
I didn’t speak ill of the individual, and left all emotion out of the piece that I wrote. I simply showed the facts. I was able to show PDF documents that proved that my company delivered the guaranteed results that the client claimed not to receive.
This handled the problem really well because anyone that visits your website will read a page that’s titled “Unhappy Customers” and the truth was evident.
Not every company will have PDF documents that prove that you did a good job. But, it’s easy for a contractor to have before and after pictures of the project. It’s easy for a retailer to post a picture of their return policy and where it’s posted in the store. No matter what your business is, you likely have proof that you did a good job, or delivered a good product to your customers.
Use that proof with the legitimate story of what transpired and how you tried to make the situation right for the customer and you will do well. Remember to leave the emotion out of your response, no matter how hard that may be for you to do.
You can also respond on the major review sites. If you choose to respond, do it the same way. Be short, honest, polite, courteous, factual and back up your side of the story with whatever proof you have and you will do fine.
Leave Your Customers Out of It
Never involve other customers. Some business owners think that the best way to combat a bad review is to get your customers to post a ton of good reviews to show you’re a good guy. This can really go badly for you.
First, your happy customers now know that there is someone unhappy with you and one or two may start thinking about a thing or two they might want from you that they now have leverage to use to get it.
An actual example of how bad this can go and how it ruined a thriving business.
Several years back, 2 friends of mine started a technical service company that in a few short years became one of the biggest and most successful in their niche. They had a staff of more than 50 and an astounding growth rate.
One client was having some difficulties in life and when his annual renewal came around, he couldn’t pay the fee. He received his renewal notice, which was less than $2,000 annually, in the mail and attacked the company online.
The Bad Review Was Not Legit
This attack was unjust because the software he purchased worked very well and he was under no obligation to renew the service contract. Nonetheless he attacked. One of the partners in the company retaliated with a brutal response online and the fight was on.
That same partner then decided to have other customers come to his rescue. Bad idea. Unbeknownst to him, one of those clients was not completely happy and saw this as a way to leverage a refund of nearly $30,000. There were no grounds for a refund, but being the opportunist that he was, this was his chance to get his money back.
The company didn’t issue a refund and that client attacked online, knowing that bad reviews were a big enough issue that the company had asked him for help. This second attack was more vicious than the first. This client rallied others to pile on and the company eventually closed. All because a bad review was handled really badly. Had this company not asked other clients to come to their rescue they would likely be thriving today.
Instead, over 50 people are out of a job and both of the owners lost a great deal of money fighting legal battles that were unnecessary and unsuccessful.
Remember this all started over an annual service contract with a value less than $2,000.
The Bottom Line On Bad Reviews Online
The moral of the story is never involve clients in any type of dispute that you’re having. Your clients should never have to deal with things like this. To ask them to get involved lessens your level of professionalism and lessens their faith in you and your company.
When it comes to online reviews remember that all companies can be reviewed badly online. The largest business with the best products and best customer service have it happen to them. There is simply no making some people happy no matter how hard you try.
Always take the high road when dealing with reviews. It may not always feel as good when you are doing it, but remember the successful company that went under over an amount less than $2,000. I’m pretty sure if they could rewind the clock that whole event would’ve been handled very differently.