Dealing with Bad Reviews: The Responsive Approach
Sometimes bad reviews happen. Search for that thing that you love. The one book, TV show, movie, whatever thing that you think is the best. There will be at least one person who hated it. Bad reviews happen, and happen for all sorts of reasons. The trick is knowing how to avoid feeding the fire because that’s when bad reviews truly get horrible.
Don’t go negative. No matter how mean or rude a negative review might be, going negative will never help. It’ll only feed the situation. The last thing you need is an argument on the internet, because no one wins those things. If you think you can, you can’t.
It’s Not About You, It’s About Them
For whatever reason, true or not, someone felt like you let them down. They expected X, you delivered Y. Even if X was impossible and you communicated that fact, or the delivered Y was exactly what they asked for but now they don’t agree. For some reason, they don’t see it. Acknowledge this fact, apologize for the situation, and try to make amends. A bad review isn’t about you so don’t take it personally. It’s about a perceived slight between what they expected and what they received.
Daring to Respond
This is where things can get tricky, see first point, responding could easily feed the fire with extra flammable fire. But on the other hand leaving it alone only shows one side of the story. Sometimes the review will be so nasty that a reader can look through it, figuring it for a scam or an angry person. The problem arises when the post is so one-sided that a viewer might not be able to look through it. Deciding how to respond is going to take tact, a clear message, and an understanding that once it’s out there you don’t know how they’ll react. Proceed with caution. Preferably, if you can contact them directly, do so. Only post publicly as a last resort. If you’re not sure about what to do, then you could always talk to someone who has experience in online reputation management.
Tips to Responding
Again caution. The items below are more ideas, points to start from, something to get you thinking. You will be more familiar with the specific situation at hand.
- Acknowledge: Give credence to the situation. Say that there was a problem and explain your side. Don’t be defensive or minimize the reviewer as crazy or wrong.
- Apologize: You don’t have to say that your work was bad; in fact it’s recommended that you don’t. Apologize that this situation has arisen. That they were unsatisfied with your work. That you’d not explained the situation well enough. That you weren’t a good fit for their needs. Whatever it is, try to lay out that you are genuinely sorry that things have come to this.
- Amend: Semi optional. It can be as simple as saying we’ll do a better job in the future to properly address any concerns our clients may have. There is always the option to refund the disgruntled client’s money, but that could easily set a bad precedent.
Just One More Thing
Bad reviews happen. Don’t panic, freak out, or call whatever yappy dogs of war you have as a legal team. Approach it with a level head. If you have to respond then do so after having a think or talking to someone who knows how to deal with such situations. Be clear and concise. Avoid explaining the situation in terms of what they did wrong. And for the love of it, don’t argue. No one ever wins online.