How to rebuild trust after a bad online review

Online reviews are an important marketing tool for many small businesses. They give potential customers and clients a chance to see how effective your goods or services are, how responsive you are to your clients, and what other people’s experiences of your business have been. The vast majority of people check online reviews before making a purchasing decision.

When reviews are great, that’s a fantastic thing. It’s when you get negative reviews that you have to adjust. Unfortunately, negative reviews are part of business. You simply can’t please all customers all the time.

Here’s the thing: a negative review can actually be a positive for your business. So how do you rebuild trust after a client has vented their frustrations online?

Leave the negative review up

A negative review doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Although customers like to see five-star reviews, they understand that perfection is almost impossible—and probably a sign that something is “too good to be true.” In that sense, having a customer or two provide negative feedback gives more credibility to the positive reviews. Customers expect to see a couple of negative reviews. As long as they’re in amongst positive feedback, the negatives likely won’t hurt you much and may even increase your legitimacy, if they’re handled well.

Respond to the review honestly

Customer complaints are a way for you to build trust with your potential clients by giving you an opportunity to respond honestly and professionally. Did something go wrong that was out of your hands? Offer an apology and explain what happened. Was there a misunderstanding? Take the opportunity to clear it up. Has the reviewer requested additional information or a solution? Respond online to show what you’ve done to address the situation. Did the reviewer misunderstand a policy? Explain your policy and invite them to contact you if they have further questions.

Doing so shows readers that you take their concerns seriously and are willing to take responsibility when things go wrong.

Learn from negative reviews

If you see the same concerns repeatedly in the online feedback, it may be time to review your services. Negative reviews give you insight into areas where your customers feel your business could make changes, so take the time to consider what you’re being told. It may be that you can improve on your offerings or you need to communicate better with clients to manage their expectations.

Thank them for their feedback, let them know you’re taking their concerns seriously, and explain what your next steps will be.

Final thoughts

Don’t panic. A bad review or two isn’t likely to ruin your reputation. In fact, a few negative reviews can help you build trust with potential clients. You can use the situation to build trust in your business by being responsive, transparent, and honest.

If possible, make sure your responses include an apology, a statement about your commitment to your clients, and a way to continue the conversation offline, if further communication is needed. Doing so will show potential customers and clients that you care about their feedback and are willing to take responsibility, but it also allows you to move the conversation to a more private forum if the reviewer isn’t happy with your response.