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Business Surgery: Lucinda Sloane, of Bird Media, has some top tips about dealing with bad online reviews

So, you've received a bad review. First things first, don’t panic.

It happens to the best of us. And trust me when I say it's not the end of the world.

In fact, it can be an opportunity in disguise.

Don’t take bad reviews personally. Picture: iStock
Don’t take bad reviews personally. Picture: iStock

Here are my top tips for managing negative feedback:

Don't take it personally

This can be incredibly challenging when we invest so much of ourselves in our businesses, but remember negative reviews are not a reflection of you as a person. Take a step back and change your perspective to look at your business from the outside in.

Lucinda Sloane, of Bird Media
Lucinda Sloane, of Bird Media

Here’s a potentially controversial one: You do not have to respond to every review

I’m giving you permission to stay quiet, which most likely goes against all other comms advice you’ve received before. But here’s why. Some reviews are simply a rant in response to you having upheld your terms and conditions, stood by your values, or protected the welfare of your employees (heaven forbid!). You could get into a back-and-forth, but it will only exacerbate the situation.

The alternative option: Take the conversation offline

Some issues are best addressed privately and (I would advise) over the telephone – the what now?! Conversations ‘in real life’ are more rational and less heated than those behind a keyboard, giving both you and your customer a chance to resolve the issue together.

When you do respond online: Empathise and offer a solution

For the most part, negative reviews can be anticipated. We know when we’ve fallen short on service or made a mistake. Acknowledge the concern and show willingness to make things right. Whether it's a refund, a replacement, a rescheduling or simply an apology, the customer needs to feel heard and valued.

Learn and improve

Reframe ‘bad’ reviews as opportunities for continuous improvement. Is there a recurring issue that can be addressed through refining processes, updating technology, or refreshing training? And involve the team in brainstorming solutions. This will not only foster a culture of collaboration and buy-in to these improvements, but is vital for that much-needed objectivity in responding to negative reviews.

Negative reviews sting, but they don't define you or your business. Remember, maintain perspective, stay resilient, and use feedback to fuel progress. I, for one, think you’re doing great!

Bird Media
Bird Media

For more advice or guidance about handling negative feedback – or more terrifyingly negative press – email lucinda.sloane@thisisbirdmedia.com or find me on LinkedIn.