How to handle negative client reviews

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3 min read

No matter how good an agent you are, it’s inevitable that while helping clients navigate the various, at times perilous, stages of the buying and selling that things will go wrong occasionally. 

We’ve previously discussed the importance of client testimonials, showing appreciation for reviews and how to get them, but we haven’t covered the flipside: how to respond to negative reviews.

As an agent clients entrust you with their most substantial asset, so it’s only understandable tensions and emotions run high if your service is anything but flawless.

But this doesn’t mean your professional reputation should suffer and be damaged for every mistake you make, causing you stress and potential loss of future business and income.

Research shows 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and negative reviews make 60% of consumers not want to use a local business.

With those sorts of numbers, it’s imperative agents have an action plan for managing negative feedback online. Here are the steps to take when handling damaging reviews.

Acknowledge

Burying your head in the sand and ignoring feedback is one of the worst things you can do when faced with a bad review. It shows potential clients that you don’t listen or care about your clients when issues arise.

In a timely manner respond to the reviewer directly so potential clients can see that you’re responsive, proactive, willing to listen and resolve clients’ concerns swiftly.

Your aim in responding isn’t to 100% satisfy the aggrieved client and have them remove the review altogether, but to influence everyone who reads it in a more positive way.

By openly getting involved potential clients may consider doing business with you after all because of how well you handled that difficult situation.

Empathise

It’s important to not get defensive or personal when writing your response, even if you believe the client is in the wrong. Remember this is a public forum where your words will exist in searches for your name and business forever.

First, thank them for taking the time to write the review. Let them know you always welcome any client feedback that will help improve your service for others.

Second, apologise in a professional and empathetic manner. This will go a long way towards the possibility of mending the relationship, making amends and getting other readers to empathise with you, as everybody makes mistakes.

Respond

Extend an olive branch to the reviewer and offer a way for them to contact you directly offline to have the issue resolved. This keeps your response brief and prevents the discussion from escalating on the public forum.

Again, this will show potential clients that you’re approachable and if any problems arise you’ll work hard to personally have them taken care of. 

Resolve

Once the complainant’s issue is resolved, go back to the review and post an update in the comments explaining the action you’ve taken and the outcome. This illustrates that you take responsibility for your actions and your commitment to solving client issues.

Every time you deal with criticisms, negative reviews or complaints it can be beneficial to view it as an opportunity to learn about how you and your team can improve your service.

Keep a record of all customer complaints and negative reviews to look for common threads in your service or behaviour that can potentially be improved upon. By doing so you can look at ways to resolve frequent issues and prevent negative reviews from happening again in the future.

What tools can help?

A free and simple tool you can use to manage your online reputation is Google Alerts. It’s easy to set up weekly or daily email alerts for mentions of your name and business.

Also check out socialmention to track and measure what people are saying about you and your company across social media and the web.

If you’re already using Hootsuite to automate your social media posts, it has a handy feature that allows you to set up a ‘mentions’ stream for all your social media accounts. This way you can monitor various platforms all in the one place at a glance.

ComplaintSearch by Go Fish Digital is a good way to check up on your online reviews. It performs a specialised Google search on over 40 complaint websites for mentions of your name, franchise and any other terms you want to check.

Remember, a well-crafted response to a negative review will help showcase your professionalism and dedication to customer service more than a negative review could ever hurt your reputation.

With these tips and tools, you’ll be responding to client reviews and managing your online reputation like a pro in no time.

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Larissa Gardner
Larissa Gardner
Larissa Gardner is the Marketing Manager at arguably Australia’s best looking real estate website homely.com.au. With a superb devotion to product innovation, user-centred design and innovative marketing platforms for real estate agents, homely.com.au helps millions of Australians find their next home.

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