Customer Relationship

Damage Control: 6 Ways to Respond to Negative Reviews

Entrepreneurs share what they do when customers tell the world they messed up.
Damage Control: 6 Ways to Respond to Negative Reviews
Image credit: Matthew Chase
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the September 2017 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When you mess up, your customers let you know -- and thanks to social media, they let everyone know. So we asked: How do you respond to negative reviews online? 

Related: 7 Ways to Use Negative Customer Feedback to Beat the Competition

1. Admit your mistakes

“Valentine’s Day is the Super Bowl for a flower company, and this year, we messed up spectacularly. Our small office couldn’t handle the spike in volume, and we were unable to fulfill a number of orders. Negative reviews popped up immediately. I posted an apology on Facebook to address what happened publicly. Customers appreciated the transparency, and many pledged to return.” -- Ajay Kori, co-founder, UrbanStems 

2. Find a fix

“We have a dedicated team called SWAT (‘service with accessorizing talent’) that constantly reviews feedback online. Once, a customer was upset because earrings she needed to wear as a bridesmaid had sold out. A SWAT stylist tracked down a sample pair in our photo studio and rushed the package to her. The customer was so thrilled with the extra care, she wrote a glowing review on Facebook.” --Daniella Yacobovsky, co-founder, BaubleBar

Related: How to Spin a Bad Online Review

3. Socialize your solution

“Dormify customers are 18 to 24 -- quick to take to social media. We recently found a customer complaining on Twitter about a broken zipper on a duvet cover. She never reached out to us, but we sent her a new cover, and I tested the zipper personally. Being 25 myself, I Insta-storied the zipper testing and duvet handoff to the messenger, explaining to followers the great lengths we’ll go to for our customers.” -- Amanda Zuckerman, co-founder, Dormify

4. Take the blame

“We’re a marketplace for pizza ordering. Early on, if a customer complained about food, we’d direct them to the restaurant -- we thought we only had to own the ordering component. But we have to own the full experience. Now we handle issues personally with the customer and the pizzeria. People don’t adjust their comments online, but we respond directly on those platforms, so others see we took action.” -- Ilir Sela, founder and CEO, Slice 

5. Look for connections

“Years ago, a negative thread about Kammok surfaced on Twitter. I reached out to the customer on Twitter, but it didn’t dissuade him. After some quick research, I realized we had a mutual friend and was able to acquire the customer’s phone number. I explained our 100 percent satisfaction guarantee on all our camping products -- which he didn’t know about. I promised to make it right, we had a laugh, and I asked him to curb his public comment.” -- Greg McEvilly, founder, Kammok 

Related: 7 Ways to Soothe a Customer Complaining Online

6. Make it personal

“We reply publicly and personally, and behind the scenes, we’re even more active to right the wrong. Recently, we were shorted a suit from a supplier, and the item had been purchased by a groom -- who was understandably angry. In addition to responding to him and getting him a replacement, we sent him a handwritten note along with a bottle of whiskey.” -- Richard Greiner, co-founder, Huckberry

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