Take a deep breath—dealing with bad reviews is unfortunately just one of those things you must confront in the home services industry. Whether the issue was your fault or not, having a plan to deal with bad reviews is vital to managing the reputation of your business.

We promise a bad review isn’t the end of your company, but it should be handled swiftly and with care. Here is your step-by-step guide to gracefully dealing with the biting words of unhappy customers:

Want to see specific examples of responses to bad reviews? Download our home services industry guide on "Responding to Reviews the Right Way."

Your Bad Review Action Plan

1. Dive in ASAP: The longer you delay dealing with a bad review, the more likely other consumers will see it. Compose yourself, and get right to the damage control.

2. Respond with grace: Responding to a bad review shows that you care and you’re willing to address the issue. You don’t have to get into the details in your response (in fact, you probably shouldn’t get into the details right there), but do make it clear that you want to talk as soon as possible to resolve the problem. Say something along the lines of, “Can I reach out to you over the phone? I’d love to talk this through and work with you to resolve the situation.”

Here are a few other important notes to consider while responding:

  • Don’t get into an argument with the customer. You don’t want your harsh words splattered across the internet for everyone to see.
  • Don’t give an underhanded apology. There’s a huge difference between “I’m sorry you think there’s a problem” and “I’m sorry you’re upset.”

3. Have the call: If the customer is willing to get on the phone with you, prepare what you’re going to say in advance. Assume the customer is going to be on the offensive, and have a plan for keeping a cool head (even if they don’t).

4. Ask the customer to consider writing a new review: If (and ONLY if) the call is heading in the right direction, consider asking the customer to write a new review. If you can get the customer to write that the situation was fully resolved, you prove that your business acts to fix any issues.

5. Bury that bad review, and bury it deep: Even if you do get your customer to write a new review, you’ll want to actively reach out to past customers you had a positive experience with and ask them to post a review. If you get enough good reviews on the site, other consumers looking at your company will disregard the negative post. People expect to see a few bad reviews mixed in with the good ones, so as long as the overwhelming majority are positive, you can put this bad review behind you.

Want to see our favorite examples of good responses (and bad responses!) to negative reviews? Download our guide below for the right and wrong ways to respond online.