Ask an MSP Expert

Q: On a popular online site, our MSP recently received a really bad review from an unhappy customer. What are some tactics we can use to move forward, without ignoring the review?

No matter what kind of business you’re in, nobody likes to see a negative review of their business online. While one bad review won’t ruin your MSP’s reputation, it shouldn’t be taken lightly, either. Ask yourself whether other people having the same experience but not speaking up? Getting to the bottom of an issue is important, and a study recently found that 95 percent of unhappy customers will return to your business if the issue is resolved quickly and efficiently.

To help you respond to poor customer reviews appropriately, we spoke to Suzanne Collier of WhiteFox Marketing. Suzanne is a public relations professional with more than 15 years of experience under her belt, and she shared her advice on how IT businesses can navigate and respond to negative reviews.

How to publicly address the review

Don’t react blindly or respond in conflict to the review. After you’ve read it, assess it and then reach out to the appropriate team or teams inside to validate it, and then ultimately address it. If it’s someone you know, call them. If not, engage them in a direct message if possible and then on the open forum.

You want to ensure the individual feels heard and that their comments don’t go unaddressed or become part of a bigger discussion fueled by social media. That said responding in a genuine, simple and timely manner is critical.

Remember, most online platforms will allow you to direct message the individual first, acknowledging their comments and/or concerns. This can help you get more detail about the specifics of the situation, which you don’t want to do on a public post, diffuse the discussion and find a resolution that you can then respond to publicly.

The worst thing you can do is lash out and get angry. You may be offended that you received a bad review, but don’t let that show. Always be professional in your responses, regardless of if they’re in a private message or a public forum. Take the high road, and be professional. Don’t ever blame the customer or throw your staff under the bus. Instead, assure the customer that you will work to resolve the issue, and try to keep your response as simple as possible.

How to evaluate the review with your team

If it’s your first bad review, it usually isn’t a big deal, but, watch for trends. If you start receiving more bad reviews or a slew of good reviews, use that as a teachable moment for your staff. If you’re on a roll with good reviews, what is your staff doing, and how can you replicate that success? 

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If you get a not-so-great review, you should go back to your team and find out what happened, so you can respond to the customer appropriately. Maybe there were extenuating circumstances, or maybe the customer was being difficult and there wasn’t a way to resolve the issue right away. So, instead of waiting for it to be resolved, they chose to write a bad review. Give your staff the benefit of the doubt, and listen to both sides of the story. Use the situation as a teaching moment to move forward in a positive direction.

How to move forward

Always encourage your customers to go to Yelp or whatever site your business is on and leave customer feedback. If people are regularly leaving feedback, a negative review will be pushed down pretty quickly. While you want customers to leave a good review, you should be subtle about it. Instead of asking for a good review, simply say, “If you enjoyed our service, please leave us a review on Yelp or Google.”

Some companies, usually ones that provide digital or consumer services, will offer incentives. For example, a dentist office might offer a discount on a whitening service for anyone who leaves a review—good or bad. That can help encourage more customer reviews. But, be careful and let them know you’re not paying for the reviews. It’s just something that’s offered to all customers if they decide to review you. Incentives can help make reviews a fun thing for everyone, and if you have a steady stream of good reviews coming in, it can counteract any bad reviews.

Don’t have your employees write a good review just to try to push a bad review down, though. Be as authentic as possible because people will usually see through it. Instead of trusting your business, they might think, “No wonder why they have a good rating, all their employees have left a review.” And, that discredits any genuine positive reviews you already have. Instead, respond to bad reviews appropriately and ask more customers to review your business.

When it comes to bad reviews, don’t run or hide. Face the review head on, and learn from it to avoid similar situations moving forward. When you receive good reviews, thank your customers and celebrate them with your staff.

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Photo:  Phoenixns / Shutterstock.

Lauren Beliveau

Posted by Lauren Beliveau

Lauren is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at Barracuda MSP. In this position, she creates and develops content that helps managed service providers grow their business. She also regularly writes The MSP’s Bookshelf and our Ask an MSP Expert column.

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