Business Problem Turnaround: Dealing with bad reviews (Part 1)

March 1, 2017

This post is part of our Business Problem Turnaround series. Read the entire series here on the Clover blog, and explore for more better business tips and tactics.

No one likes getting a negative review. They can leave business owners feeling desperate to turn the situation around and restore their reputation before it hurts the business financially. Poorly handled situations can escalate to a negative online review very quickly, so it’s important to prepare staff and have a complaint policy in place. Here are six ways to avoid negative reviews.

1. Establish a complaint policy.

Complaint policies help businesses respond quickly and appropriately to customer complaints so they are less likely to escalate.

A basic Complaint Policy includes:

  • How to record a complaint. This may seem obvious, but employees should write down not just the negative experience, but the contact information of the customer as well. Some complaint policies require the customer to fill out the complaint in their own words. Other policies require the manager to facilitate recording the events objectively.
  • What to tell the customer. Customers should be briefed on how the complaint will be handled and when to expect a response. This helps set up the customers’ expectations and reassures them that they are being taken seriously.
  • Who should be notified. Make sure that employees know to inform the manager on duty of any grievance as soon as it takes place. The chain of command should be very clear. The manager should approach the customer and apologize for the negative experience and offer to help.
  • How the investigation should unfold. If a complaint deals with a service rep or staff member, that employee should be given the chance to let their side of the story be known. This part of the investigation
  • What actions are appropriate. Is there a satisfaction guarantee? Does the customer get their money back or store credit? Having a policy helps empower employees to resolve the problem immediately and can help restore the relationship quickly.

2. Make the complaint policy public.

Make it easy for customers to communicate their dissatisfaction. Customers should know exactly how to contact managers (without having to ask) to lodge a complaint. Clover Feedback allows customers to have a conversation with the manager to report issues and get them resolved privately before they get out of hand.

3. Investigate all complaints.

Don’t wait for a complaint to make it to social media review sites. Ask customers if they are happy with the products and services and listen carefully to what they say. What is a minor complaint to one customer may be a big issue to another. Even when a complaint is unfair, businesses can often learn from a negative customer experience. They can develop ways to ensure stellar customer service or even innovate new products and services to meet customer demand. A full investigation helps managers experience a business the way a customer would to predict and avoid potential negative experiences before they happen.

4. Train the staff.

All employees should know how to handle a negative experience. They should be trained to lodge, investigate, and resolve problems professionally. Don’t just review the complaint policy with them—role play a few common negative experiences so employees can practice how to handle unhappy customers. The more practice they get, the better prepared they will be for demanding customers.

5. Monitor all review sites.

Come up with a strategy to make sure you’re continually monitoring the key sites such as Yelp!, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and Urbanspoon so you can respond to bad reviews swiftly.

6. Continually review the customer experience.

Customer complaints are a great source of valuable feedback. They give insight into the expectations and frustrations of customers. The better you understand your customers’ needs the better your customer experience will be, so think like an undercover boss and experience the business the way your customers do.

Taking these six proactive steps will help prevent negative reviews before they happen. Stay tuned in this series for more advice on how to handle negative reviews.

The Clover App Market has the tools you need to monitor your online reputation.

Featured image: Andre Hunter/Unsplash

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