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Dealing with Negative Reviews

If you have a way to be reviewed anywhere be sure to ask clients for reviews on a consistent basis before you find out you have 1 review and it is negative. Negative reviews can kill your business. If you end up in a bad situation, here is what I recommend:

Take a step back and think about whether the reviews are really deserved. If so, you need to look at your business and how you run it. Excruciating honesty is required. Is it you? Your staff? Your systems and processes? Most complaints are about customer service. Where are the weaknesses in your customer service? Now that you have negative reviews here is how to deal with them.

STEP 1 – Reduce the Impact of Negative Reviews


  1. Ask clients who you know are happy w/ your products or services to write reviews. Give them a link to make it easy, tell them where to click (To right grey box that says “WRITE A REVIEW”). This way recent good reviews will add up and make the bad ones become less powerful.
  2. Make sure asking for reviews this is part of your process of “closing a file”. Always ask for reviews when you are confident that your client had a positive experience. If you are unsure ask for feedback instead, send them to your contact page and ask them to speak their mind.

Deal with Negative Reviews Immediately

  1. Respond to the negative reviews right away in a non-defensive manner with the truth about what happened. (IMPORTANT – if your profession requires confidentiality be careful how you respond.) It is OK to admit mistakes or problems and that you strive to avoid these situations or that you’ve implemented procedures to prevent the problem from happening again.
  2. Tell the Truth. For example: if someone wrote online that you didn’t call or email them. Share more information from your point of view. Maybe you did, and they refused to answer – if that is the truth then tell the truth in a non-confrontational manner. For example if someone complained about your service and didn’t pay you. Say something like “our services are on a fee for service basis; if the initial consultation fee isn’t paid, we are unable to proceed.” Then people will see through the reviewer’s “story.”
  3. Ask clients to click on “NOT HELPFUL” for the negative reviews (if they agree they are not helpful) and HELPFUL for the positive reviews (if they agree they are helpful).

STEP 2 – Prevent Future Negative Reviews

  1. Get Organized / Change your processes – I only say this because everyone gets overwhelmed sometime. Perhaps you fail to return phone calls once in a while, or forget to do something for a client. You have to take responsibility and change the way you work because something isn’t working OR assign more of these things to someone else. Do what you are best at, delegate the rest. You may need a tool like workflowy or something more robust. Consider time blocking. Or try the Pomodoro technique.
  2. Deal with any negative experience for your clients as soon as possible. You have to change your HABITS. If you know someone is upset, get back to them right away instead of avoiding or procrastinating. It is actually easier to FACE it head on than to procrastinate. You’ll get it over with and the rest of your day will be easier, more efficient, effective because you’ve removed a stressor up front. You will sleep better. DO the thing you HATE to do FIRST and you’ll have a better day every day!
  3. Ask for feedback all the time.
  4. If you are sure that someone had a negative experience VERBALLY ASK FOR FEEDBACK! Just by asking for feedback you are giving them a chance to vent. If they get a chance to vent they are a lot less likely to put the effort into finding a place online to vent. Ask them what are they upset about? Can you fix it? If you can REPAIR it then do it!! If you know someone is just a control freak or some other kind of freak just let them go and pray that the cream rises to the top.
  5. Learn to detect problem clients in advance. Are they asking the same questions over and over in different ways? This is probably a skittish person that is going to cause headaches for you. This skittishness in my experience is usually about control and or money…


Controlling people are very bad customers and are likely to lash out with a nasty review of your business. (I’m not a psychologist). How can you tell if someone is controlling. For me it is by watching how they react to questions. If they become sarcastic or flippant when you start digging in on a subject they don’t like to be out of control and start to feel anxious when you press them. Learn more about identifying controlling people so you can send them on their way.

Money, Money, Money

The only other thing other than customer service that seems to come up in negative reviews is money. If you have great customer service or a great product the thing that will come up in negative reviews is MONEY. The money issue seems to be tied to the Control issue.

If a potential client asks way too many questions about the fees, or if they take up a lot of your time on the phone before they agree to work with you. Those are signs that they are LIKELY going to be a problem CUSTOMER and they are trying hard to control everything. Send them on their way to someone else. It is OK to turn down work and well worth it in the long run.

Here is an infographic that covers the subject of online reviews very well.
NOTE: This is NOT an endorsement of

NOTE: This is NOT an endorsement of

Frank Gomez

Frank Gomez is the owner of Empowered Marketing, LLC: Providing Website Development, Web Design and Graphic Design since 1997. Originally named Frank's Designs in Seattle, the descriptor Empowered Marketing was added in 2008 when he moved to Sarasota. In Sarasota, Frank developed his skills in InDesign, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop as well as incorporating WordPress to build compelling, fast loading websites.
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