• Rachael Dowling

Do I hide a bad review?

Before I get into this blog, I’m going to start by telling you a hard truth...

Most business aren’t worth or deserving of 5 stars.

I’ll give you a second to pick your jaw up off the floor. I’m not really a jerk in real life, but I just want to make sure we have the same expectations here.

When I think of a 5-star business, here’s what I think of:

• Personalized note cards sent to the client when they book/purchase with a gift. • Communication through the project to make sure everyone’s on the same page. • Phone calls or emails returned within 12 hours... and clients have the option to text you with questions. • When the work/tranaaction is done, a handwritten thank you card and maybe a small gift or gift card. • Follow up 3 months after to check on them and genuinely seeing how they’re doing. If your business isn’t doing this already, you need to start (I’m even guilty of skipping these steps on smaller projects - which is dumb, because they could have turned into bigger projects had I payed attention to my clients). Depending on what business you have (car sales, tax accountant, construction, life coaching, service pro, realtor, etc), the steps might be expedited. The gifts will look different. When I bought my first car, I was gifted with a pen. Okay, kinda felt cheep, but it worked. It was something, right? I also later received a hand written note from the sales person... that was better. No matter your profession, the “old school” care and attention of communication will be the same. That’s what clients value.

Again, if your business isn’t doing the above, you’ve already lost a star.

Back to that bad review... The worst feeling in the world is when someone goes all “Keyboard Warrior” on you over the internet. Maybe you knew they weren’t happy. Maybe the project/job/transaction didn’t work out the way you had envisioned.

That’s okay.

You’re not going to hide the review.

Breath. Ultimately, somewhere along the way, the ball was dropped. Brush yourself off, and we’re going to learn from what they wrote. I’ve had to do this before - and after the feeling of instant sweat, heart palpitations, and wanting to throw up left me - it was a positive experience. Big breath.

More importantly, you’re not going to hide the bad review. You’re going to respond to it. Keep reading.

Disecting A Bad Review - How to Overcome and Learn From It

  1. Do they have a point? No really. One of the worst reviews I ever recived talked about my technique as a photographer. They didn’t like my work. I was deviststated. But after the initial shock of their comments, I looked back at the images. The client was right. They weren’t the best - and in order to improve, I needed to upgrade my lighting equipment. Did you fail your client due to outdated technology, technique, or investments back into your continued education on your profession (even through YouTube videos, webinars, mentors)? Revaluate what you know and learn something new.

  2. Is what they wrote a complaint or a comment? It’s so hard to hear tone when someone’s writing. Usually, in reviews, people don’t include emojis. They might have a completely even tone. Maybe to them, 3 stars means average. Unless the used adjectives like “utter disgust” you might be doing okay. Not 5-star worthy, but okay.

  3. Is what they brought up something you had control to change? Every opportunity has variables - some we can control and some are out of our hands. • Were you late on delivering their project because you didn’t manage your time wisely? Your fault. Learn from it. • Your client wrote an offer for a house and didn’t win because there was a bigger, higher offer? Not your fault. Everyone’s budget has a breaking point. • The supplies you needed to complete their project didn’t show up or were delayed... and you didn’t communicate that to them? Your fault. If you did communicate the delay to them - not your fault. Third party vendors are out of our control. • You oversold yourself and didn’t follow through with finishing the project/sale? Your fault. • You treated the client like they were your friend* (i.e. sharing drunk stories, dropping swear words). Your fault. *Some business owners advertise their “rough” demeanor - and there are clients who seek out that personality. But if you‘ve only ever advertised yourself as a standard business person, that’s what your clients are expecting. Hearing swear words come out of your mouth could feel very unprofessional.

  4. They wrote a bad review with the hope of getting a discount. Ugh, this is the worst type of “ bad review”. This will probably be obvious, because the client will openly (or privately) ask for a specific dollar amount or percentage back. Usually this type of review happens when people spent more than they had originally planned. The revisions the client made during the project kept adding up. The extended warranty cost more monthly than was budgeted. During the sale/project, an unexpected medical bill came up - not your fault, but now they need money back to cover the unexpected expense. You’re not going to give them money back - in fact, the client writing a bad review like this is starting to feel like “black mail.” Yikes.

Now that you’ve hopefully come to terms with the bad review - and the fact that you’re going to leave it up - here’s how you respectfully respond to a bad public review. And yes, these are all going to seem pretty generic. Leave your emotions out of it.

If you have some choice words to say to the cleint - and the depth of hades can not control your anger - write it out. But write it in a word document. Print it out. Tear it up. Don’t let your emotions control you right now. We’re going to use this bad review to show new clients how even keeled and professional we are.

Response for When They Have a Point:

Hey/Hello Client - I really appreciate your feedback and your openness in sharing ___________ was lacking on your project. I am

planning on addressing this sitation by ____________ (action item of how you’ve fixed it) - so new clients can have the best experience possible. I really enjoyed working with you - and given another chance, I’d love the opportunity to impress you.

Response for when they leave a neutral comment:

Hey/Hello Client - I really appreciate you taking the time to leave a review. I’m so sad to see only ______ stars. My goal is always to impress my clients. If you’d like to message me, I’d love to opportunity to earn the extra stars.

Response for when they leave a comment about something you HAD control over:

Hey/Hello Client - I am so sorry to hear you felt like I dropped the ball on ____________. And looking back, I can see I didn’t communicate effectively with you about how long the process would take. I have implemented a new client timeline so everyone knows how long it takes for similar projects to be completed. Thank you for bringing this to my attention so I could make it right.

Response for when they leave a comment about something you DIDN’T HAVE control over:

Hey/Hello Client - I am so sorry to hear you we’re disappointed about ________. And I agree - I was disappointed too when learning ____________ (i.e. product was late, another vendor didn’t follow through, timeline was pushed back from X). I wish I could have had control over ______ so the project ran more smoothly. Even though the above didn’t work out as we planned, I’m so happy your finished __________ turned out beautifully.

Response for when the client wants money back:

Hey/Hello Cleint - I understand that you are not happy with the product/service you received. I feel very proud of the work I had done on your project - I even felt so great about how your project turned out, I have been using it on my website (Or I shared about it on my social media). Because I gave your project the same service and attention to detail as I give to all my clients, I am not able to provide you with a discount or refund. I appreciate your understanding and wish you the best with all of your future projects.

These are just some of my “quick” standard responses. Feel free to add your own lingo - but make sure your response doesn’t have any extra emotions. Also avoid words like “problem”. There are no good problems. Instead, use words like “situation” - there can be good or bad situations.

Let me know if these responses have helped you out. Or if you have a better response, comment below! I’d love to hear what you have to say too.