Handling Negative Reviews

March 1, 2019

The way a bad review is handled could determine whether the customer—and his or her friends and family—comes back  

The review is in—and it’s not good.

Most businesses have had experience with a less-than-stellar review, and with something as costly and stressful as getting a car serviced, chances are the emotions—positive or negative—run higher than usual. Negative reviews are obviously not ideal, but if they’re handled up front and honestly, can be a learning tool and avoid a lost customer.  

In an ideal world, prevention is the best course of action, says Ben Wood, digital director, Hallam Internet, a digital marketing agency. In order to best deal with a negative review, be on the offensive at all times and make sure your customers have the best experience possible, Wood says.  

“It is important to note that a negative review online is usually the last resort and I would always suggest dealing with complaints before they escalate,” Wood says.

However, sometimes things fall through the cracks or you run into a customer that wouldn’t be happy—no matter what—and he or she writes a scathing review for the world to see.  


Here’s an example of a real review that was posted:

"Worst Experience Ever" - BrokenJeep

One week after purchasing a previously leased Grand Cherokee, the car broke down (after only using for less than 40 miles) and the dealer is charging me $1,500 to fix it. Wouldn’t trust buying any cars from and wouldn’t recommend it unless you are a mechanic and want to spend time fixing your car.

When something like this happens, Wood shares a few keys for handling the situation:  

Monitor Reviews.

Don’t let a review like this get past you. Make sure you stay on top of negative experiences and respond and monitor negative reviews. Wood recommends setting up alerts from major review providers to make sure you’re notified whenever these reviews are posted. Beyond the major review platforms, Wood also suggests enabling this across your social media platforms.

Take Action.

Wood says it’s important to respond to negative reviews so the public can see that you’re taking precautions to fix the issue.

“Responding to customer reviews is essential to show the public you’re active in resolving issues,” Wood says.

He adds that addressing that one review will also prevent additional reviews that could spiral out of control.

Respond Quickly.

And when it comes to response time to a negative review? The quicker the better. According to research by The Social Habit, 42 percent of consumers who complain on social media expect a response within an hour. If that time period isn’t met, 38 percent report a more negative opinion of the brand.

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