Damage control time: Handling the negative online review

How to treat bad feedback the right way
  • When you get a negative online review, stop, collect yourself, kill them with kindness, don’t pass the blame and move forward.

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Did I drop the ball? Yes, I could have done better. But they were at fault as well. My team did everything we could to make them happy, and nothing we did satisfied their requests. I bent over backward for these customers.

So what happened? Well, instead of just asking for a refund, our customers jumped onto Google and left us a negative review (with some falsehoods), even referencing me by name. I was pretty upset, to say the least.

In business, making rash decisions is never good. What I wanted to do was call and put them in their place. But what good would that do? It would probably just validate their negative review.

This was a learning experience for me and my team, and hopefully you will learn something as well. Here are five things to do when you get a negative online review.

1. Stop, and collect yourself

Nothing good comes from calling someone while you’re still hot. You’ll end up saying things you will regret. You’ll also provide them with extra ammo to pin against you.

Take a deep breath, maybe even sit on it for 24 hours, then call them when you’re calmed down.

2. Kill them with kindness

Once I was calmed down, I reached out to this customer and apologized that things had not worked out the way I wished they had.

They weren’t very friendly, but that’s OK. At least I couldn’t be accused of being rude and demeaning in any way.

3. Hold their refund

Now, this could sound bad, but hear me out.

We would have gladly given them their refund because they weren’t pleased. We aren’t in the business of taking someone’s money. But because they put a negative review on Google that wasn’t entirely true, we chose to leverage it.

We told them we would provide a full refund once they showed us proof that they had removed the review from Google.

It worked like a charm. They removed the review, and we credited their money back to their account. (Don’t forget to have them remove the “star” portion of the review too. It’s different from the review itself.)

4. Don’t pass the blame

It’s human nature for us to blame others when things go wrong. But who does that help? That doesn’t help me or my team get better. So we had a meeting with our team after this was over to discuss how we could learn and improve from this unfortunate situation.

Because losing money sucks!

But not learning why you lost the money is even worse. Like my business partner says, “Don’t waste your pain.”

5. Move forward

Don’t let the past handcuff you from your future. There are too many other real estate agents for us to serve for me to let this one upset customer get me down. So, after you learn, forget about it, and take the next step forward. Better days are ahead!

At the end of the day, negative reviews are not fun, but they also remind people that we are human. I was talking to a Realtor one time who said he won a listing because of a negative review.

The homeowners said they were looking at Realtors online; when they saw agents with 100 percent positive reviews, they passed that agent by because that’s just not realistic.

They choose my Realtor friend because he had a couple negative reviews mixed in with all the great ones.

You never know — your next negative review might be the stepping stone to the next level of your business. Keep your head up.

Kyle Draper is the president and co-founder of AgentImpress.me. Connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Instagram.