People often ask me what to do when they receive a negative review online. I've quickly come to realize that, although we desire to please everyone, as type A, OCD-driven, entrepreneur-minded individuals—we simply can't.
Sometimes people hate us for merely being a reflection of what they wish to become. Sometimes it's not even our work or the experience they had that they didn't like. It could be something absolutely out of your control. However, sometimes, we might have rightfully earned negative feedback. Maybe we made a poor decision or a mistake.
Regardless of the reason, here is an eight-step process for handling the unsettling circumstances.
Just stay calm and be patient. At least for me, I want to react immediately. Don't. Try to distance your emotional self and avoid being defensive. A friend told me once, "If you get defensive, you probably have something to defend."
2. Don't take negative, unjustified reviews personally
It's natural to feel angry or annoyed. Especially when you're confident in your ability. Don't let your feelings control your reactions. You don't want to try to prove that the reviewer is wrong. As long as your product and service are superb, the positive always outweighs the negative.
3. Respond quickly
Reply to the review as fast as you can, publicly, with a clear conscience in gentleness and respect. Be sure to validate the feelings of the reviewer. You don't have to agree with them, but you can express empathy and understanding their position as you attempt to rectify their concerns.
4. Refrain from an immediate fix publicly
Don't offer a discount or coupon in a public forum. This remedy is an easy tactic your potential client might use to locate a deal. It also invites an unnecessary and unneeded audience that can make the circumstance harder to deal with and potentially muddy the waters even more. Move the conversation offline, if possible. Always try to make it right resolving issues privately and ideally in person. It's hard to dislike a real-life living person when they buy you a coffee and listen. Ask questions and listen, putting yourself in the client's shoes.
5. Ask for time
Many times, at least for me, I want the problem to be over as soon as possible. Take a breath. Ask the client for time to think about a creative resolution. Talk to allies, mentors, or peers. It's great to get an outside-in perspective. It helps discern more clearly with feelings aside. Time does heal.
6. Ask the reviewer to reconsider their negative review
When a fix is identified and hopefully properly resolved, I recommend requesting that the client reconsider. This review will affect your reputation negatively if it sticks, so it's worth a shot to ask. Most of the time, we found that when we offer a fix, we can revisit the review at a later date. Most of the time, negative reviews are removed or even converted to a positive one.
Sometimes the negative comment sticks no matter how you choose to resolve the issue. It's ok. Don't let it deter your trajectory. Stay positive and keep on truckin'. Remember, we cannot control other people and their right to react. There has been a handful of situations over the years where no matter what we offer the client in hopes of an amicable reconciliation, they simply decline. You have to find peace in the fact that you did everything in your ability to reconcile. If they wish not to resolve or accept, then you have to move on and understand that you are not for everyone.
7. Encourage positive reviews from your regular clients
Encourage your regulars to submit positive reviews. Most reviewing platforms operate on a percentage scale. Many times if you receive much more positive reviews than negative ones, it will push the negative reviews down the list, and they will get drowned out.
8. Refuse insanity
We understand by mere definition that insanity is repeating the same behaviors and expecting different results. Refuse it. Be open to change to benefit the greater good. Learn from these circumstances and make changes necessary to your systems and processes for improvement.
Be humble and malleable. Make a difference.