Don’t Panic Over a Negative Review

A person checking a review on a mobile phone, with rating stars in the background

You’ve googled your cleaning business and there, amid the sea of positive, glowing, five-star reviews, is one negative review from a disgruntled customer.

Do you ignore the review? Counter it with an online comment? Contact the customer and offer a free cleaning?

You’re Not Alone

Liz Trotter, a partner with Cleaning Business Builders, a consulting service for cleaning businesses, said negative online reviews are a concern that comes up repeatedly among her clients. “You can be proactive or you can be reactive in dealing with them,” she says. “Most people are reactive, but there are several proactive approaches you can take instead of focusing on negative reviews after you get them.”

Trotter will outline several proactive processes business owners can take to control their online reputation during an educational session—The Joys and Pains of Yelp and Google—on Tuesday, October 30 at the ISSA Show North America 2018 in Dallas, TX.

One approach involves directly asking your clients for a review. Target clients who are active on social media, give them your best service, then ask them for a review.

“Go above and beyond and give them something else, something unique and so noteworthy that they feel compelled to talk about you,” Trotter said. She mentioned writing a personalized note or leaving a small gift. “One company bakes fresh cookies for its clients after cleaning,” she said.

Offer Your Services Again

Reactive responses can also be effective. Trotter suggests reaching out to people who were not 100 percent satisfied and offering your services again. The trick lies in the timing. “Although you’ll be tempted to offer your services immediately, you’ll want to wait a bit; there’s a specific time frame that is most effective,” Trotter said, adding she’ll explain the time frame in detail at the educational session.

No matter your approach, remember not to take a negative review personally. You can expect to receive negative reviews occasionally, unless you own a very small business or just got started.

“Keep it in perspective. It’s part of the job,” Trotter says. “Even if you haven’t received a bad review yet, come to the presentation anyway because it will happen.”

Take Back Your Power

Trotter has learned to look at one-star reviews in a new way as they can help you improve your business. “Having all five-star reviews is not necessarily a good thing,” she said. “You can learn more about how to improve your business from a one-star review. You don’t have to become a victim to these reviews. Come to the course and learn how to use them to your advantage.

Although there are some instances in which you should ignore negative reviews, perhaps as in the case of clients who are never satisfied, in general don’t ignore a bad review. And, most importantly, don’t sacrifice your profits trying to please unhappy customers.

“A lot of people I talk to feel like they have no control over bad reviews and that they have to constantly give away free cleanings to appease clients,” she said. “People do get into this cycle and end up losing money. Once you get into this cycle, it’s hard to get out of it.”




Posted On September 21, 2018
Kathleen Misovic

Kathleen Misovic

Associate Editor for CMM

Kathleen Misovic is associate editor for CMM. She can be reached at

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