Manage Your Negative Reviews, Positively

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By Heather Ripley

Everyone loves getting great reviews.

Whether it’s a job performance review or a review from a customer on Google Business Reviews, having someone recognize your work is a feather in your cap.

But it’s how you deal with your negative reviews that really speaks volumes about your integrity.

Most home and property service companies know that positive reviews are their bread and butter.

Several studies have shown that about 90% of consumers read reviews before deciding to buy a product or hire a professional. This is particularly true for customers who need to hire a plumber, HVAC tech or electrician.

And, if you aren’t monitoring your reviews, you may be leaving your reputation up to your last review. If it’s a negative review and you aren’t addressing it, it could result in a lot of headaches for your business.

Dangers in Unanswered Reviews

Human nature, being what it is, means that when a customer is satisfied with the work their plumber did in repiping their old home, they aren’t as likely to go online to give a positive review.

Research shows that customers are more inclined to write negative reviews because of the way our brains react to negativity. When we’ve had a bad experience, our emotions are processed more thoroughly, driving us to let the world know we were wronged.

Human nature also means that not every job we have is going to go smoothly. Your team may try hard to please the customer at every job site, but sometimes things just go wrong. And when they do, you may be the recipient of a bad review.

When that happens, you need to acknowledge it publicly, even if you address it privately.

That’s why you need to dedicate an employee or a public relations team to monitor your reviews. And that person or team should also know when and how to respond.

If someone has taken the time to post a review online, even a bad one, their words should be acknowledged. It’s important that customers don’t feel their heartfelt expression of displeasure goes unnoticed. Not only does it make a more permanent adversary of your business, but it can make others who read the complaint have negative feelings about your company, too.

If someone writes a negative review and it sits there for weeks or months without a response, then others who are reading the review will get the impression that you and your leadership don’t care about their customers. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.

Managing Poor Reviews

So how should you handle a bad review?

The first thing you should remember is that your answer will be seen by anyone who views that page; therefore, you should always be considerate, apologetic and polite to any bad reviewer.

That can sometimes be hard to do. You’ve spent your blood, sweat and tears building your company, and it’s like your baby. But you can’t take offense and lash out. No one wins when the conversation devolves into a childish fight.

But you can manage your bad reviews professionally by:

  1. Reading the review thoroughly and responding promptly. Don’t wait months to make amends or others reading the reviews may think that you don’t care.
  2. Once you see a bad review, apologize immediately for the poor experience and acknowledge that something is wrong.
  3. Take it offline. After your public apology, let the reviewer know that you are looking into the problem and either give them a number to call you or let them know you will be getting in touch with them.
  4. Don’t try to sell your services. Turning any review – good or bad – into an opportunity to sell something shows poor taste. You have a whole website and an advertising budget for that.

Keep your responses short and professional, but always respond. And if you don’t have the time or the temperament to respond professionally, hire an employee in-house or a PR or reputation management team to help you.

After all, your business is only as good as your last review.

Heather Ripley is founder and CEO of Ripley PR, an elite, global public relations agency specializing in the skilled trades, franchising and B2B tech industries. Ripley PR is recognized as the top PR agency for the home service industry. It also has been listed by Entrepreneur Magazine as a Top Franchise PR Agency for six consecutive years and was named to Forbes’ America’s Best PR Agencies for 2021. Heather Ripley was recently named as a 2024 PRNews Top Women honoree in the business entrepreneur category. She is also the author of “NEXT LEVEL NOW: PR Secrets to Drive Explosive Growth for your Home Service Business,” which is now available on all audiobook platforms. For additional information, visit

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