By Tricia Scott


We’ve all been there, you’ve done your best bent over backwards, gone the extra 100 miles and that client STILL gave you a negative or neutral review. 


You feel like chucking the towel in, I mean what else could you possible do for these people? Pass the wine!! 

But wait. 

Put the cork back in the bottle. 

No seriously, PUT IT BACK. 

OK, so firstly as difficult as it is you cant take it personally. This is a tough one to learn, especially when you’re a small business or even more so if its just you. But you have to remember this is a business and as a professional you need to be able to take that step back and view this as an experience to learn from. 

You may be upset, mad as hell or just plain insulted but trust me you should never respond to a negative review from that headspace. You are the professional here. So here’s my top seven tips for dealing with ‘dissatisfied of Newcastle’ without completely losing your shit. 


  1. Take a break. Step away from the computer or telephone and take a break. Make a cuppa, walk around the block have a bath, whatever works for you but do not respond immediately when you’re likely to be at your most emotional about it.


  1. Is the review even for you? I’ve heard from many clients that online reviews have been left for them and sometimes it wasn’t even their company! Yep it happens. A similar business with a similar name could well be in the firing line and be completely innocent. If this is the case then contact the review site immediately. Now this isn’t always easy either, its a lot easier to leave a review and it be completely wrong or false than it is to have one removed let me tell you. However get in touch and let them know about it. If that doesn’t work then…


  1. Get involved in the conversation. You cannot ignore poor reviews. Its the worst thing you can do for reputation management. Of course if the review is entirely wrong as mentioned above you can simply state so in your reply and politely request that the reviewer removes it - even if they don’t, readers will see that there was an issue and how you’ve responded. You can even have a standard response to something like this that you just copy and paste when you need it. If you don’t respond to a bad review in essence you are responding. You are telling the world that you don’t care enough about your customer's experience to warrant your time for a reply. So always respond and keep it polite and professional. Your clients often just want to be heard and responding is a great way to rebuild a relationship. If you’re wrong say so, and offer to put it right. If they are wrong then state the facts, not emotionally (you can delete the string of expletives now) but be open and readers will be able to see that you are approachable and you care about your customers experiences with you. You would be AMAZED how many companies simply ignore the negatives. Want to stand out? Get responding.


  1. Check it over before you hit the ‘post’ button. Ok, you’ve calmed down, had a walk and a piece of cake and you’ve penned the perfect response but before you submit that reply have someone read it over as if they were the customer. How does it read to a third party? Its always worth checking to make sure it comes over with the tone intended.


  1. Is there a positive? Its tough but you need to really look at that review. Is there something in there you can do differently next time? Can you change something so that it doesn’t happen again? Oftentimes we’ve done all we can and believe me you’re never going to be able to please everyone all of the time but if you can be totally honest with yourself and try to see it through the eyes of the customer it can provide valuable insight.


  1. They are not set in stone. Reviews can be updated by the reviewer so if you offer genuine help or rectify the issue then the negative can indeed be turned into a positive. This looks great on any review site - you’ve acknowledged a problem, rectified it with great service and the client has retracted their original statement #win


  1. ATTENTION ATTENTION! We’ve all had them. Could it be that the customer is a big time attention seeker? Online review sites and forums are the perfect place for such drama because its all public. Remember this when you’re posting your response. If its drama they’re after don’t give it to them. Sometimes something as simple as ‘I’m sorry you feel that way, please give me a call and I’d be happy to talk it over with you’ is enough to a) show other readers that you want to resolve the matter (even if the never call) and b) enough to drive a drama queen to distraction. Whatever happens DO NOT engage in a public slanging match with a client. It never looks good on the company and you’ll run out of wine.


  1. Praise for the positive. When you know you’ve had a great relationship with a client ask for a review! Don’t be shy, its how many businesses get ahead in this digital age. Send them a link to leave you a review or ask for testimonial you can use. People love to hear about others experiences and its a growing trend. The last statistic I read was something like 85% of people trusted an online review as much as a personal recommendation. EIGHTY FIVE PERCENT! So if you want more business and want to be a trusted name in your field of expertise then encourage all of the reviews you can. The more positives your potential clients see the less the negatives matter.

Whatever happens always know that you cannot please everyone all of the time. Negative reviews are not the end of the world (honestly!) It's all about how you handle them and once you've composed a reply, had it checked over and hit submit then, you can open the wine.


To your success, always,