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Step by step ways to handle both real and fake negative reviews

This post was written by TCCS member, Dayarne Smith


For most copywriters, it feels like a knife to the heart when a client leaves a bad Facebook review. We feel all the emotions, twice. How could they? What an arsehat. Am I a terrible writer?

It’s hard not to take it personally, but the way you handle a crappy review makes all the difference.

Don’t get emotional, respond professionally and if appropriate, try to make it up to them. If you get it right, you could actually make your clients love you more.


Is it real, or fake?

Truth is, most humans are quite self-centred.

We want our needs met right now, and for goods and services to live up to our expectations. When that doesn’t happen, it’s way too easy to jump online and let the world know.

Most negative feedback falls into two categories:

  1. It’s a fair complaint and you should deal with it (even if it’s petty)
  2. The review is fake – they’ve never been a client


It’s a fair complaint, what should I do?

Let’s say Susan gave you a blast on Facebook, claiming your customer service was terrible. She wanted a copywriting quote and contacted you through your website three times. Susan didn’t get a reply, so she left you a scathing review.

What this could mean is your website contact form is broken and Susan’s done you a favour.

How many other potential leads have you lost because you didn’t know the form wasn’t working?


Here’s a simple 3-step solution

1. Remove the emotion

After you’ve finished swearing at your iPad – take a few deep breaths and calm down. Don’t respond while you’re upset or angry.

Remove the emotion from the scenario and look at it objectively. Ask yourself – is the criticism fair?

Could you have done more to prevent the problem? Is there room to improve your processes to make sure it doesn’t happen again. (Fix that broken contact form, dammit!)


2. Respond publicly, discuss privately

Once you’re calm, think about how you can resolve the problem.

Don’t ignore the review. Respond with an apology if appropriate and ask them to contact you by direct message or email.

By taking the conversation private, it’s easier for you to get the information you need. Often, people leave negative reviews because they want to be heard. Listen to their issue and try to understand it from their point of view.

If the review is obscene or offensive, you should report it to Facebook through the ‘Find Support or Report Recommendation’ button.


3. Schmooze a little

Try to make things right. That might mean redoing some work, replacing a product, fixing a process, or sending a voucher or small gift.

If you come to an amicable resolution, add a comment on the review explaining how you solved the problem.

For example:
“Hi Susan, thanks for giving us the opportunity to resolve the problem. We didn’t realise our website contact form was broken. We have fixed it and hope you’ll enjoy the little gift we’ve sent you in the mail.”

* Note: Don’t do this if the customer is still angry – you risk them responding with another nasty comment. A tit-for-tat Facebook war never looks professional.

Here’s the recap:

  • don’t ignore it
  • stay calm
  • respond publicly, deal with it privately
  • apologise if it’s warranted
  • make it up to them (if you can)

And when all else fails …

Move on.

Even if you’re a true professional and do all the right things, sometimes people won’t be happy. Don’t sweat it.

Make sure you’re in the habit of asking all your clients for reviews. At the end of every copywriting job send an email to the client with links to Facebook, Google, and other places you’d like them to leave you a review.

This way, positive reviews will drown out the bad. Most people will use common sense to make a fair judgement that you if have 47 fab reviews and 2 negative ones, then you’re probably great at your job.


What if the review is a big, dirty fake

Couldn’t you scream with the unfairness of it? Fake reviews are the worst.

Do you have a jealous competitor trying to get a leg up? Or someone who really doesn’t like you? No matter who the dirty culprit is, it’s a horrible experience.

Here’s how to tackle the problem head-on.


1. Don’t ignore it – call them out on their skullduggery

Stay calm and professional, but make sure you respond.

If you’re confident the reviewer has never been a client of yours, say so.

Reply with something like:

“Hello Kevin. I keep a comprehensive client database and have no record of ever working with you. Could you please contact me by email with more information so I can get to the bottom of this.”


2. Report the comment to Facebook

As soon as you post a reply, report the review through the ‘Find Support or Report Recommendation’ button. You can then choose a reason for reporting, including:

  • Unfair recommendation
  • Spam
  • Harassment
  • Recommendation not relevant
  • Violence


3. Drown it out with positive reviews

You should always seek reviews and testimonials from clients, but if it’s been a while, start now.

Get in touch with as many clients as you can and ask them to leave you a Facebook review. Include a link to make it easier for them.


You’ll come out the other side

It mightn’t feel like it at the time, but you will come out on the other side of a bad Facebook review.

Your ego might be bruised, but it’ll blow over. And if you handle it well, you’ll win some new admirers who were impressed with the way you handled your business.

Have you ever had to deal with a bad Facebook review? Do you have any helpful tips to add?


About Dayarne Smith

Dayarne Smith is a freelance copywriter helping businesses build brand awareness and win new customers. Dayarne knows boring copy doesn’t sell, so she crafts quality content with a fun, creative edge.