Has a past customer posted a negative online review about your business? Don’t sweat it. With the right response, you can use negative reviews to generate positive exposure and build better client relationships. Here are four tips to help you convert customer criticisms into one of your greatest assets:

1. Start a conversation.

Consider reviews — both positive and negative — an invitation to a conversation. Being responsive builds trust and reinforces your commitment to good customer service. Show your customers that you take their feedback seriously: Make it a point to monitor your reviews — and respond to all of them in a timely manner.

2. Keep it classy.

If you’ve made a mistake, admit it — and explain what you’ll do (or have already done) to make it better. If a customer is making a complaint that you feel is unwarranted, acknowledge the complaint and invite the customer to contact you directly to discuss a resolution. Whatever you do, don’t get defensive. When it comes to negative online reviews, your best defense is handling them professionally and gracefully.

3. Listen and learn.

Sometimes, negative reviews are unfounded (we can’t please everyone). Other times, there’s a valid complaint and a genuine lesson to be learned. Take those reviews to heart. Focus on your business goals and make the changes and improvements necessary to better both your business and your customer relationships.

4. Highlight the positive.

Nothing sucks the power from one bad review like 10 great reviews around it. Encourage your happy customers to review your work on their projects — and make it as easy as possible for them to submit their feedback. Help customers find your review sites by including a link on their receipts, calling out reviews in occasional social media posts and e-mail promotions, or linking a feedback button on your website. Even better, list your business on websites like HomeAdvisor.com, which will collect customer reviews on your behalf.


Even the best pros get bad reviews. The good news is that they offer an opportunity to engage meaningfully with past customers and show potential customers that you care. By being responsive and courteous in the face of negative reviews, you can generate positive publicity and build better client relationships. And by listening and learning from constructive criticisms, you can generate more good reviews and win more jobs, which will ultimately lead to increased profits and greater success for your business.

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