Monthly Archives: February 2017

Defusing Damaging Reviews

Irene Green

Online hostile attacks or simply an unhappy client review means trouble. How we manage online engagement is critical to our reputation and our reputation is critical to our success.

Founder of Lee Wade stated at our recent Harcourts conference in Australia that the majority of poor reviews come from buyers and tenants.

Less than 30% of us know how to handle negative online reviews. Old thinking was to ignore public displays of criticism with the thinking that any more comment given would only draw more attention to the complaint. Not so online. Just deleting and blocking unhappy customers will damage our business.  88% of our future clients will research us online and 57% will make a decision before making contact with us. A negative review handled badly will see us fall to the bottom of their short list. So here are a few simple guide lines that might help:

  • Respond immediately
  • Find out why
  • Be professional
  • Fix the Problem
  • Apologise
  • Do not delete or block.
  • Appoint a champion

Respond immediately 

Respond to the post with a public message alongside their complaint that says you care. E.g. “I am so sorry you have had a bad experience but thank you so much for letting us know. We pride ourselves on our 98% customer satisfaction rating so this is important to us too. I have reached out to you offline and look forward to putting this right.” Next send them a private message asking them for their contact phone number and a convenient time to call.  Alternatively provide your office phone number and email address and ask them to write to you in more detail about their complaint so that you can look into it for them.

Find out why

Communicate however you can – via online messaging or email if that’s all the contact details you have otherwise make a personal phone call or invite them to meet with you at the office. Find out what actually happened in the situation – this will give you some insight into the situation but more importantly will allow them to feel heard and important.

Be Professional

Criticism is hard to take especially if it is unfounded but do not react emotionally. It’s important to be human and genuine, not officious, but don’t get angry, personal or dismissive. It is recommended that someone more neutral than the ‘complainee’ make the initial contact.

Fix the Problem

If you or one of your team have done something wrong, or could have improved somewhere, admit it and make steps to rectify the situation where you can.


Whether you have been able to fix what is done or not, once concluded send a gift with a hand written note. In most cases there is going to be some element of truth to whatever the complaint is. So apologize for it. You have more to lose than they do.

Do not delete or block

Do not delete the complaint or block the person who has made it unless you have to. The customer has the ability to edit their post plus they will hopefully comment on how well their complaint was handled. On the odd occasion the person has a personal agenda with no intention of reaching a solution or if they become abusive then block them from the page and delete their comments or posts.

Appoint a champion 

Identify someone on your team skilled to handle online reviews, someone who you trust not to be emotionally reactive and who will be responsible for finding and responding to all online reviews.