5-step customer service approach to handling negative reviews for tradespeople

There’s no pleasing some people. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a red-hot go at turning negative reviews into positive customer experiences. The success of your trades business may depend on it, writes Kellie Byrnes.

As a tradie, you do everything you can to provide quality work and make customers happy.

Sometimes, though, no matter what you do, the client makes a complaint, or things go wrong during the job that are out of your control but leave a sour taste in the customer’s mouth.

No matter the reasons, it’s a fact of life that tradies end up with some negative customer reviews to deal with over their careers.

The key factor, though, is how you respond to these. Here are some tips to help you make the best of a difficult situation in the future.


1. Respond quickly


If a disgruntled client leaves a negative review on social media or elsewhere, deal with the complaint promptly. Doing this will help to stop the issue from escalating.

You don’t want the person to add even more negative comments and make the situation worse.

Plus, by responding quickly, you’ll show other potential clients that you care about the job you do and have efficient customer service.

READ: Here’s why the humble phone call is still best for business communications

It pays to monitor review sites and social media channels so you can be alerted to any negative responses ASAP.

Try to take the issue offline, too. After publicly acknowledging the person’s unhappiness, tell them you want to investigate the matter and ask them for contact details so you can handle things privately and resolve the issue.

Once you’ve done this, go back online to post a public comment on the site where the complaint was issued. Outline the steps you took to address the client’s concerns.


2. Remain polite and professional


It’s necessary to remain polite and professional when responding to criticism posted on a public forum.

While people may say things you disagree with, and you may be infuriated by comments, don’t let this drive you to retaliate by saying nasty or defensive things yourself.

READ: Win more sales with a top-notch trades business website

Reacting in this way only makes you look bad and won’t help to resolve the situation.

Take time to think about the steps you’ll take, rather than responding when you’re emotional.

Get someone else to read over your comments before you hit send, so that fresh, objective eyes can tell you if you’re not being polite.


3. Apologise and show empathy


It’s also wise to apologise to the unhappy customer, rather than making excuses or blaming them.

You may not feel like apologising, and you and your business may not actually be in the wrong, but try to “suck it up” and communicate to the client that you’re sorry they’re disappointed or upset.

Doing this means showing empathy, and will often make the customer change their tune quite quickly because they feel heard.

Plus, being empathetic is a good way to demonstrate that you’re easy to deal with and will take responsibility for problems. This, in turn, helps to encourage potential clients to hire you.


4. Request the removal of misleading reviews


In some circumstances, you might learn that a negative review has been posted by someone who hasn’t actually used your services at all.

READ: What to do when online reviews are fake news

It’s awful but true: competitors can write nasty things to try to hurt your business, disgruntled former employees can try to take revenge, or trolls and other people can make up reviews simply to cause distress.

In these cases, contact the relevant platform and ask them to remove the misleading comments.

Note that you’ll generally have to provide some proof of your claims.


5. Seek out the learning experience


Another vital step in dealing with negative reviews is examining what role you or your workers had to play.

Seek out the learning experience in this situation so you know what to avoid doing or to do differently with future customers.

Even though it’s not a fun situation to be in, facing negativity can be a positive thing because it alerts you to a problem that might be turning many customers off from hiring you again or referring you to their contacts.

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