How to Handle Negative Reviews Like a Pro

HDC_Negative_Reviews_Blog_2844_1200x600I’m a big fan of online reviews. Not only do they provide information about the product or service you’re researching, they also show you how the company handles problems. To me, a negative review is worth more than a positive review. If I see a lot of uncontested negative reviews, I move on. If I see the business responded with a simple “sorry for your experience” or “please contact us” response, I typically assume they’re answering just for the sake of answering and not because they really care, so I move on. However, sometimes I see a company handle a bad review very well and I work with them. After all, if I have a bad experience, I want to know that the company will do everything they can to rectify the situation. So, what should you do when you get a negative review online?

Don’ts

Before we discuss how you should handle negative reviews, it’s important to mention how you shouldn’t.

  1. Don’t take it personally. A negative or angry review does not detract from your value and worth.
  2. Don’t react in anger. Attacking your reviewer’s position, story, or personality will not make other buyers and sellers want to work with you.
  3. Don’t ignore it. Negative online reviews don’t disappear. They’ll be out there where buyers and sellers can find them for years.
  4. Don’t rush your response. A poorly thought-out answer won’t win you any points with your former client.
  5. Don’t get discouraged. A few bad reviews don’t mean that the majority of your buyers and sellers aren’t happy.

Dos

Now that you’ve reviewed how not to handle dissatisfied clients, let’s talk about how you can move forward and address negative reviews.

  1. Try to win back the buyer or seller. Just because they’ve left you a negative review doesn’t mean you’ve lost their business and referrals forever. Try to fix the problem or, if it isn’t something you can fix, offer a gesture of goodwill.
  2. Remember that even if you can’t win back the reviewer, how you respond will determine whether other buyers and sellers who see the exchange will want to work with you.
  3. Take control of negative reviews quickly. If you don’t respond promptly, a potential client may see the uncontested negative review and decide to move on to the next agent.
  4. Try to see the situation from the reviewer’s point of view. Empathize with them and think about what you would want if you and your reviewer switched places. If possible, do or say to them what you would want done or said to you if the situations were reversed.
  5. Let them know you understand their concerns. Even if the problem isn’t your fault, let them know you understand why they are upset. Sometimes people just want to be heard.
  6. Own up to mistakes. If you dropped the ball, apologize and do what you can to make it better.
  7. When you rectify the situation with your former client, ask them to update their review with how you resolved the situation. If they aren’t satisfied with the resolution you provided, add the update yourself.
  8. Make sure any remarks you make on your negative review are calm and respectful. That way, even if you aren’t able to resolve the situation to your reviewer’s satisfaction, potential clients will see that you kept a level head and did your best.
  9. Remind your reviewer (and anyone else reading) that your business has a great track record of service. Assure them that this is a one-time situation. Emphasize how important happy clients are to your business (as well as how numerous they are.) This will help potential clients put the one negative review into perspective.
  10. Keep track of your online reputation. When someone leaves a review about you or your business online, the clock starts ticking. Make sure you don’t miss any with a good reputation manager that finds the positive and the negative reviews for you.

Examples

Situation 1:

A buyer you’ve never worked with falls in love with your listing online and calls you while you are busy with a client. When they get to your voicemail, they hang up. They try reaching you 2-3 more times, always when you’re busy, but they never leave a message. Irritated, they then go online and leave a bad review to the effect of “Never work with ____! I called them multiple times to see a house they listed for sale and they never called me back! Terrible service!!!”

You would probably be surprised to see this review since you never had a message from this person asking for a call-back or an opportunity to see your listing, but look at it from their point of view. With listing inventory low and the stress of searching for a home, they’re likely very stressed, and without an agent, they aren’t sure how to get things done in time. You wouldn’t want to attack this person’s review by saying you’ve never heard of them or that they never left you a message. That wouldn’t be constructive. Instead, try taking them in a more positive direction:

“I’m sorry I missed your calls! I do my best to answer my phone every time it rings, but I put it on mute while I’m with a client so I can focus on helping them. I would be glad to set up a time to show you the home you were interested in, as well as a few comparable listings you may like. Please give me one more call, and if we do miss each other, leave a voicemail or send me a text and I’ll be glad to call you back as soon as I’m finished helping the person I’m with!”

Situation 2:

A seller lists their home with you but they want to price it far above what it will realistically sell for. You warn them that it’s likely to sit on the market for some time at that price, but they’re unwilling to go down. After six months, there have been minimal showings and no offers, so the seller decides to list with someone else. Later, you find their review online, something like:

“I listed my house with _____ and they didn’t do anything! It sat on the market for six months and then I started getting a bunch of lowball offers because buyers thought something was wrong with it since it was on the market so long! I put a lot of work into that house and had hardly any showings after listing with _____! I had to bring my price way down because of ____ and finally got it sold when I listed with _____.”

It’s natural to get angry if you see a review like this. You told them their listing price was too high. You put your time and money into photographing, listing, and marketing their home and never got paid since they ended up working with a different agent. However, future sellers who see the review won’t want to work with you if you start tearing the seller apart. Instead, go back to your dos and don’ts and respond positively. What exactly would this look like? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Do you need help monitoring your online reputation? Homes.com Social Fuel doesn’t just create Facebook ads and post social content for you; it also has an advanced reputation manager to help you track what people are saying about you online. Call us at (888) 651-8956 or send an email to productinfo@homes.com to learn how we can help you keep your online reputation on track!

Hannah Graham

Hannah Graham

I joined Homes.com's support team in May 2012 before moving to marketing in 2015. In that time, my nieces have grown numerous and my two pups, Annabel and Aya have grown enormous!
Hannah Graham

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