Bad reviews can harm any business, but they can be especially detrimental to independent contractors. At the same time, it’s virtually impossible to please every single client, so a negative review is likely to happen eventually. Even the most well-meaning independent contractors are susceptible to problematic clients; it’s important to be able to handle bad reviews if they occur.
Be Professional and Apologize
It may be tempting to ignore the review or even respond emotionally, but the best thing you can do is to relax and approach your response calmly and professionally. First, take a step back and give yourself time to cool off. Your response is naturally going to vary on a case-by-case basis, but a general rule of thumb is that it’s best to apologize and seek resolution. It may hurt your pride, especially if you did nothing wrong, but attempting to rectify the problem in a positive way is the best approach.
Consider Addressing the Situation
In some cases, the bad review may be caused by a misunderstanding. Without being argumentative or passive-aggressive, you may want to explain your perspective. In some cases, this may only anger the reviewer more, so try to gauge whether he’s going to be willing to engage in reasonable discourse, or if it’s better simply left alone.
If you decide to address the situation, you can do it privately and hope the reviewer will understand and change or delete the review, or you can do it publicly and hope the public sees your point of view. Continue to interact with the reviewer using a kind, understanding tone, but explain why the problem occurred. If it was in fact your fault, admit your mistake. Most of the time, the best way to address a negative review is to simply acknowledge your error, apologize for it, do your best to correct it, and then move on.
Present a Solution
Sometimes, the best way to deal with a poor review is to spin it to showcase the positive aspects of your contracting services, while simultaneously presenting a legitimate solution to the disgruntled client’s grievance. For example, if the reviewer was unhappy with a logo you designed for his company, you could highlight the fact you offer a wide range of other graphic design services and skills, and that you would be happy to work with him to create a logo that is a better fit for his company. This approach has the dual benefit of showing other readers what services you offer, while also proving you’re willing to work with your clients to ensure their complete satisfaction at the end of the day.
Contact the Review Website
If the negative review is completely untrue and you can provide solid, undeniable proof, you may want to contact the administrator of the review website to have it redacted. This isn’t always possible, but if it’s a particularly scathing review, it may be worth the time and effort to do some damage control.
Earn More Positive Reviews
Sometimes, the best way to minimize bad online customer reactions is to drown them out with positive reviews. Of course, you should never post fake reviews or try to buy them. However, after completing a project, you can politely let a client know that an online review goes a long way in helping your independent contracting business and in helping you to improve your business. Continue to provide excellent service for your current and future clients, and those bad reviews will fade away with time. Learn from all of your feedback, both good and bad, and try not to let harsh words bring you down.