How to tackle negative reviews

October 6, 2023 By    

Last month, we reviewed the importance of online reviews and how positive ratings can build your propane company’s reputation. Now, it’s time to arm yourself with strategies against negative reviews.


Photo: Blue Planet Studio / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Photo: Blue Planet Studio/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

What are the implications of a negative review? It sends customers away from your business and toward the competition, according to Susan Janett, the program director with Warm Thoughts Communications.

Checking online reviews is so popular that 94 percent of people avoid a business after reading a negative review about it, according to research from ReviewTrackers.

Even one bad review can greatly impact your company reputation, even after years spent building a positive status. Janett says a company needs 12 good reviews to make up for just one bad review. She adds that research suggests one negative review can push away at least 30 potential customers.

“People will jump on the drama train,” Janett says.

Remember that potential customers are more likely to engage with any negative feedback on social media left by disappointed customers, she adds.

Because of a greater sense of community, people are more likely to trust someone they know on social media than an anonymous review.

How to deal

A bad review pops up about your company – now what? Reviews on sites like Google, Yelp and Facebook are permanent. So, it’s important to carefully consider your response, which will also remain visible indefinitely.

First, try to move the conversation offline where it’s harder for everyone else to grab the popcorn and watch. Janett shares this example response: “I want to help you personally. I’m going to message my direct line so we can talk about this.”

People get loud because they feel like no one is listening to them, so Janett suggests listening carefully and demonstrating empathy to help deescalate the situation.

Janett suggests focusing on what you can control, including your reactions, attitude, professionalism and skill at managing the conversation.

If it escalates

Occasionally, you cannot please an upset customer no matter what strategies you try. Sometimes it’s best just to ignore those who can’t be satisfied, Janett says.

Those one-star reviews could happen. When they do, respond quickly and politely. Then bury it with more reviews by asking happy customers for their feedback.

If a customer has a problem that you know you can’t address, listen anyway. Letting them vent may take away much of the frustration.

Avoid blaming your company policy as an answer for a situation that went wrong. If you don’t know a reason or solution, get together with your team and follow up with the customer.

If a situation with an angry customer escalates, be firm but polite. You do not need to deal with abuse or someone screaming at you.

Janett offers these responses to someone who is letting their anger take over:

  • “I’d like to help you if you let me talk.”
  • “I want to help, but if you won’t let me talk, I can’t.
  • “I’m going to have to end this call if you won’t let me discuss how I can help.”
  • “Did I do something personally to upset you?”

Customer service

The tactics for providing good customer service over the phone or face to face will also work for responding to people on social media, according to Janett.

If a customer is upset, it’s OK to apologize for how they are feeling. When we are angry, we want to be acknowledged, she says. Treat a customer like you’d want your family members to be treated. Let them vent to you but stay present and use kindness.

It can be a tough situation, but don’t take it to heart. “Take it seriously, not personally,” Janett says.

If you are trying to propose a solution for the customer, ask them for permission first by using Janett’s five magic words: Would it be alright if? Getting their permission to solve the problem helps the customer feel like they are in control.

Remember, better customer service can help reduce negative reviews in the first place.

About the Author:

Danielle Pesta is the senior digital media manager for North Coast Media, the parent company of LP Gas. She can be reached at

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